Govt to sign Covid-19 vaccine procurement contract with Johnson & Johnson, says Khairy
PUTRAJAYA (Feb 17): The government will sign a Covid-19 vaccine procurement contract with Johnson & Johnson (J&J) from the US soon, said Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

He said so far, clinical information on this vaccine had been positive and based on the recommendation of the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee (JKJAV), the Cabinet had decided to purchase this vaccine.

“We are still in the discussion process and I understand that Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba will soon sign a contract for Malaysia to procure the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.

“Only after that will we send the vaccine to the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) for evaluation.”

Khairy said this at a news conference on coordination by the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) to manage the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme here today.

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single-dose vaccine,” he said.

Meanwhile, on two-dose vaccines, Khairy said that under the JKJAV’s policy, the second dose of the vaccine would be safely stored for those who had received the first dose.

“We are following the suggestion of vaccine supplier Pfizer that the second dose be given 21 days after the first.

“We do not want to take the UK’s approach of extending the time for the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine from one month to nine or up to 12 weeks,” he added.

Two-dose vaccines are produced by companies such as Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Sinovac Life Sciences Co Ltd and CanSinoBIO, while the one-dose type comes from Sputnik V besides J&J.

Malaysia is scheduled to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this Feb 21, one week earlier than scheduled.

Upon arrival, the vaccine will be kept at the central storage facility administered by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and safeguarded by police.

“I believe PDRM and the Malaysian Armed Forces will not only assist at this vaccine storage facility but also the convoys transporting the vaccine to various parts of the country since it is such an invaluable thing now,” Khairy said.

On the procurement of low dead volume syringes, he said the government has secured enough syringes needed to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“Some of the deliveries have been made and we’re hoping for more deliveries as we roll out the first phase,” he said.

Dr Adham had reportedly said that the MoH needed 12 million low dead-volume syringes to inject 20% of the country’s population or six million recipients in the first phase of the vaccination programme.

He said this type of syringe was appropriate and needed for the vaccine as it could avoid wastage and maximise the number of doses to be given, especially in the first phase of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

When asked about potential problems when the vaccine programme has been rolled out, Khairy said it would be the logistics part where the government was managing a nationwide campaign.

“We have to ensure the logistics is seamless, especially with the Pfizer vaccine having to be stored at -70 to -80 degree Celsius, so that there is no wastage of the vaccine.

“We have given a lot of thought to the logistical movements of the vaccine and obviously we will start on Feb 21 when the Pfizer vaccine comes and to be distributed throughout the country,” he added.