Covid-19 vaccine trial involves vaccine from China, not Pfizer-BioNTech variant, says Dr Sim

Dr Sim Kui Hian

KUCHING (Jan 7): The Covid-19 vaccine trial that will be carried out at Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) involves a vaccine from China, said Local Government and Housing Minister Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian.

He said the vaccine was different from the one that the Malaysian government and the Sarawak government is waiting for at the moment, which is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

However, Dr Sim did not specify which vaccine from China would be used in the trials here. China currently produces two vaccines — Sinovac and Sinopharm.

He said some people, including some political opportunists, had ‘spun up’ talk about the recently announced vaccine trial to be conducted at SGH.

“The clinical trials with SGH is for a different vaccine. SGH has been picked as one of the eight centres throughout Malaysia to do research on a new vaccine from China.

“The selection of SGH is itself a recognition, showing that SGH is of international standard.

“That is for a research on one of the vaccine from China. That’s why earlier on, a lot of vaccines in China were on trial in countries like Indonesia, Brazil and Peru,” he told a press conference after witnessing the handing of offer letters to the recipients of low cost housing units at Kampung Bunga Rampai here today.

Dr Sim said according to the Ministry of Health (MOH), the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will arrive in Malaysia next month and the first batch of vaccines will go to those who are most vulnerable as well as frontliners.

He said he had told the MOH that Sarawak would also want to have its share for frontliners and those at high risk once the vaccine arrives.

Dr Sim added that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that the Malaysian government is buying from America, however, would need to be kept in a freezer at -70 degrees Celsius.

He said some of the hospital in Sarawak are doing logistic trials to make sure that the vaccine can be kept at such low temperatures all the way to the interior and rural areas.

“In Sarawak, the freezer that can maintain such low temperatures are mostly the research centres in Kuching, Sibu and Miri.

“Not all hospitals have a -70 degree freezer, so it’s very hard to keep the vaccine at -70 degrees Celsius if we don’t have the logistics.

“That is why there are lots of other vaccines being tried out because they want to see if other vaccines may not need to be kept at such extremely low temperatures,” he said.

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