MoU signed to manufacture cost-effective vaccinations in M'sia (Updated)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is set to manufacture cost effective vaccinations, including halal vaccinations through a MoU signed between Pharmaniaga Berhad, Technology Depository Agency (TDA) and Hilleman Laboratories.

The MoU signing was witnessed by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, who lauded the collaboration that would coordinate efforts in developing and manufacturing vaccines that can be incorporated into Malaysia's National Immunisation Programmes (NIP).

"We have a very successful vaccination programme in Malaysia. We vaccinate against twelve diseases, this is more than what is mandated by WHO (World Health Organisation).

"Today we witnessed a MoU signing between Pharmaniaga, Technology Depository Agency (TDA) and Hilleman Laboratories to start developing halal vaccines and to make Malaysia a hub for halal vaccines," Subramaniam said in his speech at today's signing ceremony.

The NIP was introduced in the early 1950s and was based on the WHO Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI). It covers twelve major diseases which are diphtheria, haemophilus influenzae type B (HIB), Hepatitis B, human papillomavirus (HPV), Japanese encephalitis (JE), measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), poliomyelitis (polio), rubella, tetanus and tuberculosis (TB).

"The government provides these vaccinations for free. If through this collaboration we can lower the cost for the government it will be good. Pharmaniaga will invest a sum of RM100 million for a time period of five years," he told the media during the press conference.

Subramaniam said the halal status of the vaccines would be worked out with the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim).

Meanwhile, speaking on the world's first dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, that may have negative long-term effects on those who have never had a dengue infection, Subramaniam said this situation was why the ministry was cautious about the vaccine being approved for Malaysia.

On Sunday, Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said a six-year clinical study found that although the vaccine was effective for those with a prior dengue infection, it was not so for those who had never been infected.

His statement came in response to the suspension of Dengvaxia by the Philippines, which has vaccinated more than 700,000 children with the drug since 2016.