In the efforts of fighting the global pandemic which has killed nearly 1.5 million people and upended the global economy, Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator was launched in April by WHO and partners. Covax is the vaccine pillar of the ACT-Accelerator, aimed to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines with a contribution of nearly 5 billion US$.
This is being done because normally, manufacturers are reluctant to risk making the investments needed to increase vaccine manufacturing facilities until they have received approval for a vaccine. But in the context of the current situation, this would lead to delays and vaccine shortages once vaccines are licensed. Covax has set targets to deliver 2 billion of vaccines by the end of 2021, 500 million syringes stockpiled by the end of 2020, and this is supported by 186 countries including Malaysia.
On November 09, 2020, the world was staggered by the announcement of Pfizer and BioNTech about the success of their vaccine candidate in the first interim analysis from phase 3 study (Out of 4). The Ministry of Health (MoH), has signed the agreement with Pfizer to obtain 12.8 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to meet immunisation needs of 20% or 6.4 million Malaysians. At the same time, the United Kingdom has become the first western country to authorise the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and is set to be rolled out from next week.
However, Malaysia’s agreement with Pfizer would be void if Covid-19 vaccine fails to be registered with US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Malaysia’s National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA). Nevertheless, this news represents a major leap forward in the race towards improving management of the coronavirus epidemic among the Malaysian population. In the meantime, let’s stay focused and follow the SOPs that are already in place and imposed by the government.
Mohd Haziq Bin Jamaludin
PUTRA Centre for Social Studies