KUALA LUMPUR: Phamaniaga Bhd has the capacity to manufacture two million doses of COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac Life Sciences Co Ltd per month beginning March this year. Group managing director Datuk Zulkarnain Md Eusope said the vaccine would be the first to be manufactured in Malaysia at the small volume injectable high-tech plant owned by Pharmaniaga's wholly-owned subsidiary, Pharmaniaga LifeSciences Sdn Bhd, in Puchong. He said the group would invest RM3 million to retrofit the plant to enable the production of the vaccine. "We are very confident in carrying out the task successfully because our technical experts have been working on setting up a halal vaccine plant in Malaysia since 2017. "When the COVID-19 spread around the world early last year, we immediately chanelled our team to work with our global partners, including Sinovac on the fill and finish manufacturing activity and technology transfer to speed up the availability of vaccines against the pandemic," he told reporters after the signing of an agreement between Pharmaniaga and Sinovac Life Sciences Co Ltd today. The signing ceremony was witnessed by Senior Minister (Security Cluster) and Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba and Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin. Pharmaniaga is set to carry out the fill and finish of COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac Life, which is expected to be ready to be distributed to the public by end-March 2021. The agreement is for the supply of 14 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to be carried out for fill and finish activity. Pharmaniaga has been engaging with the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) to ensure that its plant continues to be in high compliance of regulatory requirements. Zulkarnain said the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine has completed the phase three trials in Brazil and Turkey, and is now in the process of getting approvals in both countries. "Currently, we are in the discussion with NPRA for registration and they have been very supportive on this project, thus we are confident to manufacture and have the vaccine ready to be distributed to hospitals by end of March 2021," he added. Meanwhile, Khairy said the agreement between Pharmaniaga and Sinovac was a private initiative. "We have facilitated this because we have given an indication to Pharmaniaga that we are interested in the Sinovac vaccine. "Now the government's procurement (of) part of it, hopefully, will be concluded by next week," he added. Khairy assured that the vaccine programme for COVID-19 would be carried out within the first quarter of 2021. "We are not too late and too early. We can design our immunisation programme that can reduce a lot of wastage and it will be rolled out as efficiently as possible," he added. - Bernama
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