By John Isaac
DESPITE claims made by some pharmaceutical companies on vaccine discovery and that third phase of it clinical trial has been completed, it is still a long way for it to be made available for Malaysia.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said currently there were 10 companies claiming to have come close to finding a vaccine. However none had actually published their clinical trial data to be reviewed.
“Some companies such as Pfizer and Moderna claimed to have found a vaccine and that they had completed phase three of the clinical trial. But until now, these companies have yet to publish the data from the clinical trials.
“There are also media reports saying that Covid-19 vaccine has been found, but that alone is not enough to convince its effectiveness or safety,” Dr Noor Hisham said during a Covid-19 briefing session with the media.
He said reports that Pfizer had submitted their vaccine discovery to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States on Friday for approval, was only for clinical interim analysis report.
“It is not the data from the clinical trial that they allegedly carried out,” he said as reported by the New Straits Times.
He was responding to a question on how soon a vaccine would be available for Malaysia and if three was any preferred vaccine producer for the country.
Not a simple process
Meanwhile, deputy director-general of Health Dr Hishamshah Mohd Ibrahim said vaccine approval was not a simple process, as it needed to undergo various levels of testing and approval from multiple agencies.
“These companies have yet to provide data from their clinical trials, as required by the World Health Organisation and relevant authorities.
“There are several stages of testing and reviews which the vaccine must first pass, before it can be certified as an effective and safe to use vaccine,” he said.
For instance, Dr Hishamshah said, in Malaysia there is the Vaccine Supplies Access Guarantee Special Committee under the purview of Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation comprising academicians, medical experts and professionals who will review vaccines approved by FDA, before it can be selected for use in Malaysia.
“As of now, there are no pharmaceutical companies that have successfully produced a Covid-19 vaccine, that has been backed by relevant empirical data.
“All those (reports) are mostly claims and media reports that have no published data of the trials conducted,” Dr Hishamshah said.
It was reported that US biotech giant Pfizer and German partner BioNTech had sought approval on Friday (Saturday in Malaysia) to roll out their coronavirus vaccine early.
Vaccines developed by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna are among those in the lead in the global race for Covid-19 vaccine.