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Upping the ante with vaccines’ logistics

After more than a year in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world finally sees a glimmer of hope as vaccine developers worldwide begin releasing tested and certified vaccines for use.

Initially, health organisations worldwide indicated that it could take up to two to three years for a Covid-19 vaccine to be available. But as early as mid-last year, vaccine developers started hinting that a vaccine could be found much earlier than expected.

In December, the World Health Organisation (WHO) listed the Comirnaty Covid-19 mRNA vaccine for emergency use, making the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine the first to receive emergency validation from WHO since the outbreak began a year ago.

Following this, more vaccine developers have announced the effectiveness of their vaccines including Oxford-AstraZeneca’s AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, ModernaTX Inc’s Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, and others.

As at January 12, 2021, WHO reported that there are currently 63 Covid-19 vaccines undergoing clinical trial with 173 more undergoing pre-clinical development.

These positive developments on vaccines cannot come soon enough as most countries worldwide grapple with the third or fourth wave of the pandemic.

“While the situation seems perilous at the moment, we believe that it is different from the one that we faced in March and April of last year,” commented analysts with MIDF Amanah Investment Bank Bhd (MIDF Research) in a research note on the MCO 2.0.

“Back in March 2020, when (the first) MCO was first imposed, we were faced with more uncertainties. Vaccines were not available, all economic activities were closed and people were generally under prepared.

“However, now people and businesses are better prepared having gone through nearly a year of the pandemic and the standard operating procedures (SOP) to contain the coronavirus. Meanwhile, some economic activities are allowed to continue despite the MCO. More importantly, we have the vaccines and are awaiting the implementation of the vaccine programme.”

Malaysia is expected to receive the vaccine by Pfizer for Phase 1 by the end of February 2021.

Procuring through Covax facilities, Pfizer and AstraZeneca, the government expects to secure supply vaccine for 40 per cent of population coverage.

MIDF Research recapped that the government is also in the process of final negotiations with Sinovac, CanSino and Gamaleya to get a guarantee of increased vaccine supply exceeding 80 per cent of the total population of the country or 26.5 million.

“With this, it is hoped that Malaysia can achieve herd immunity against the vaccine. We maintain our expectation that the vaccine will be widely available by the second half of 2021,” it projected.

So far, the government has allocated over RM3 billion under Budget 2021 for the purchases of Covid-19 vaccines to immunise an estimated 70 per cent of the population here in Malaysia.

In tabling Budget 2021, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said the government was committed to acquiring Covid-19 vaccines through its participation in Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access (Covax).

With vaccines now available and some en route to Malaysia under the approval of Ministry of Health’s National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), the tricky part now is the logistics and distribution process, and storage of the vaccines here, as well as the cost of it all.

Vaccine logistics’ fund allocation

According to AmInvestment Bank Bhd’s research house (AmInvestment), the allocation of RM3 billion is expected to cover costs of procurement, storage and transport while another RM2 billion will be used for the purchase of equipment and supplies related to Covid-19 treatment.

Despite the massive allocation for vaccines, it believed that this value might be insufficient to cover the costs of the remaining vaccines.

“The feasibility of the RM3 billion budget is dependent on the Covax-supplied vaccine dose price. Should it be priced closer…

Read More: Upping the ante with vaccines’ logistics

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