M’sia-developed Covid-19 vaccine aims to be ready in 2024

A Covid-19 vaccine that is currently being developed in Malaysia is expected to be ready in 2024.

The vaccine is also being designed as a booster shot, and will take into account variants of the virus such as the Delta strain, according to The Star.

Pre-clinical animal trials to begin next month

The director of Malaysia’s Institute for Medical Research (IMR) Tahir Aris said that they are currently working on two types of Covid-19 vaccines: one using mRNA technology, similar to the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, and the other using the inactivated vaccine approach, such as Sinovac.

IMR is currently working with experts from Universiti Putra Malaysia and Malaysia’s Veterinary Research Institute.

According to Tahir, the vaccine’s progress has been “positive”, with the inactivated vaccine to undergo pre-clinical trials involving animals next month.

He said that such animal tests will be conducted for around six months, before moving forward with clinical trials involving humans next year.

A budget of MYR3.1 million (S$1 million) was approved for the development of the vaccine, although the budget is limited to laboratory and animal studies only.

The Star reported that extra funding will have to be applied for to fund pre-clinical and clinical studies for humans.

Tahir emphasised the importance of not relying wholly on imported vaccine supplies, and expressed his hope that Malaysia’s Covid-19 vaccines would match the quality of those produced overseas.

He also said that the current initiative will be important in the future, in order to prepare the country for future outbreaks.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation

Malaysia reported 6,658 new Covid-19 cases, and 107 new deaths due to the virus on July 3.

The movement control order (MCO) was recently extended to mid-July, and Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin announced that the government will soon provide additional financial assistance to its citizens.

In certain hard-hit states, hospitals are overcrowded due to the surge of new cases, with medical personnel struggling to take care of their patients.

One million doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, donated by the United States, are due to arrive in Malaysia on Monday (July 5), according to CNA.

According to Reuters, Malaysia has administered at least 8.5 million does of Covid-19 vaccines so far.

Assuming that each individual requires two doses, that’s equivalent to about 13.4 per cent of the population being vaccinated.

Actual data, however, reflects that just over seven per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

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Top image via YouTube/The Star.