KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will soon allow the commercial sale of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Chinese firms Sinopharm and Sinovac, the science minister said on Friday, as authorities try to ramp up inoculation rates amid surging cases.
Malaysia has one of the region’s highest number of coronavirus infections per-capita but also one of its fastest vaccination rates. About 39% of its adult population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Sinopharm vaccine, which Malaysia approved on Friday for emergency use, would soon be open for private purchase, science minister Khairy Jamaluddin told a virtual news conference.
Meanwhile, Sinovac vaccines would be available commercially from August 1, after it has completed the delivery of some 15 million doses procured by the government, he said. Malaysia on Friday reported 12,541 new coronavirus cases, bringing total infections to 893,323, including 6,728 deaths.
Malaysia had previously said it would stop administering Sinovac vaccines after supplies run out, and would instead rely largely on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for its national rollout.
On Friday, Khairy clarified that surplus Sinovac shots would remain available for those who may have allergy concerns with other vaccines, saying there is no issue over Sinovac’s efficacy.
Malaysia would also consider purchasing more doses from Sinovac in the event of a shortfall of AstraZeneca vaccines from neighbouring Thailand, he said.
Thailand said this week it was considering limiting exports of locally-produced AstraZeneca vaccines to fight its own COVID-19 crisis, a move that could potentially disrupt supplies to its regional neighbours. Khairy said Malaysia would seek assurances from Thailand that there would be no disruptions to supply.