KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia Pharmaniaga Bhd has signed an agreement with China’s Sinovac to purchase 14 million doses of ready-to-fill COVID-19 vaccines and later to manufacture the vaccine domestically, it said on Tuesday.
Pharmaniaga said in a bourse filing that the company will carry out a fill-and-finish process of the vaccine in Malaysia, and will subsequently enter into local manufacturing, under license from Sinovac for its technology and know-how.
Group Managing Director Zulkarnain Md Eusope said the company has a monthly fill-and-finish capacity of two million doses and that Sinovac’s vaccine will be the first to be manufactured in Malaysia.
“Upon approval from the (local pharmaceutical regulator), we are confident to manufacture and have the vaccine ready to be distributed to the hospitals by the end of March,” he said at the signing event.
The government-backed firm said the agreement will also help it in long-term partnerships, including technology transfers to grow the sector in Malaysia.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Malaysia would be able to procure the 14 million doses of vaccine through Pharmaniaga at a lower price than if procured directly from Sinovac.
“We will finalise the government procurement part of it hopefully by next week,” he added.
Malaysia has been in talks to secure a total of 23.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Sinovac and another Chinese manufacturer CanSino Biologics, and from Russia’s Gamaleya Institute, the maker of the Sputnik V vaccine.
The Southeast Asian nation has also procured coronavirus vaccines from U.S. and German drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech, as well as British-Swedish biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca PLC.
(Reporting by Liz Lee; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Michael Perry)