Malaysia signs Covid-19 vaccine agreement with AstraZeneca

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Malaysia has signed an agreement to buy 6.4 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and is in negotiations with China and Russia to secure more vaccine supplies, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a video address on Tuesday.

According to the minister, the country continues to battle a third wave of coronavirus cases.

The government signed a deal to secure 12.8 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech in November and is also sourcing vaccines from the World Health Organization’s COVAX programme.

“This means that we have secured vaccine supplies to cover 40 percent (of the population),” Muhyiddin said.

The government is now in final negotiations with China-based manufacturers Sinovac and CanSino Biologics as well as Russia’s Gamaleya Institute to cover its remaining requirements and expects to have sufficient vaccine to inoculate 83 percent of people in the country.

Malaysia is battling a third wave of the coronavirus, but has allowed shops and other businesses to remain open provided that they comply with health protocols such as mask wearing and the installation of plastic shields.

“These will not just be vaccine purchases but will also include fill & finish capacity (putting the vaccines in the vials) in Malaysia and potential R&D tie-ups,” Khairy Jamaluddin, Malaysia’s minister of science, technology and innovation, said on Twitter.

Total procurement costs are currently about $504.4m, according to the government.

After keeping the coronavirus in check for much of the year, Malaysia has been battling a third wave of infections, which accelerated after a state election in the Borneo state of Sabah in September and then spread to Kuala Lumpur and its surrounding areas.

Clusters of cases have emerged in prisons and detention centres as well as factories, with the country’s single-biggest outbreak emerging from the crowded dormitories that are home to migrant workers employed by Top Glove, the world’s biggest manufacturer of medical gloves.

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