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Covid-19 Vaccine: Health D-G Responds To Reuter’s Report Regarding Pfizer’s Supply Problems

Covid-19 Vaccine: Health D-G Responds To Reuter’s Report Regarding Pfizer’s Supply Problems

Will we still be getting our vaccine? Probably. But first the company needs to apply for approval with the NPRA.

Tasneem Nazari

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The Health Ministry released a statement in response to the public’s inquiry regarding a recent Reuter’s report on 4 December.

The report claimed that the US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has had challenges to their raw material supply chain which will result in reduced quantities for the first batch of their Covid-19 vaccine.

Malaysia is the first Southeast Asian nation to announce its deal with Pfizer for Covid-19 vaccines and has since agreed to buy 12.8 million doses in total.

As Pfizer’s vaccine requires each person to take two doses, if the agreement goes through, the deal will immunise 6.4 million Malaysians.

READ MORE: No, Malaysians Aren’t Lab Rats For Covid-19 Vaccine. We Actually Have A Plan

The Health Ministry has yet to receive any confirmation of this from Pfizer

(Credit: Malay Mail)

In the statement, Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that the Malaysian National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) has yet to receive any official document from Pfizer regarding the reported issues.

The NPRA has not yet received any documents from Pfizer for the evaluation and testing required for the registering of their vaccine product, not has the NPRA received any information related to the reported issue of vaccine dose supply problems.

Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Health Director-General of Malaysia

The NPRA is the body responsible for evaluating, testing, approving and registering all drugs, including vaccines, as safe and effective for public use in Malaysia.

The agency also ensures the quality, safety and efficacy of vaccines and medicines are continually guaranteed through its monitoring programmes and pharmacovigilance.

Dr Noor Hisham continued saying that the Health Ministry will resume monitoring the development of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine and obtain more information on this matter.

Reuters reported that Pfizer has slashed its target number of vaccine doses for 2020.

According to the report by Reuters, a spokeswoman from Pfizer said that the company had slashed its initial target of producing 100 million doses in the first batch, to just 50 million doses. 

That would be enough to inoculate only 25 million people during the first rollout.

She cited issues in securing the needed raw materials required for manufacturing the vaccines and a delay in obtaining Pfizer’s clinical trial results.

Nevertheless, the spokeswoman informed Reuters that the modifications to Pfizer’s production lines are completed and finished doses are now being made at a rapid pace.

Which countries are relying on Pfizer for vaccine supply

(Credit: Sky News)

Through a quick search on Google, it appears that the following countries have struck deals with Pfizer for the Covid-19 vaccine. 

While some countries have announced how many doses they’re getting through their deal, like Malaysia not all have announced how many they are expecting during the first rollout.

  1. United States – Pfizer has agreed to supply the US with a total of up to 300 million doses and plans to have a first batch of 6.4 million doses ready for the country by 2020.
  2. European Union – EU countries are expected to get a supply of 200 million doses in total. No report has confirmed how many doses they’ll be getting during the first rollout.
  3. Japan – Japan has secured 120 million doses from Pfizer by the first quarter of 2021
  4. United Kingdom – The UK has ordered 40 million doses in total, with the first batch of 800,000 to be received by next week.
  5. Middle East Nations – Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Iraq have all struck deals with Pfizer for the vaccine as well. Kuwait will reportedly be getting a first batch of 150,000 vaccines, while Israel has reportedly ordered a total of 8 million doses.
  6. Malaysia – We have ordered a total of 12.8 billion doses, but are unsure how many doses will arrive in the first batch.

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