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Small bottles labelled with a ‘Vaccine Covid-19' sticker and a medical syringe are seen in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. — Reuters pic
Small bottles labelled with a ‘Vaccine Covid-19′ sticker and a medical syringe are seen in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. — Reuters pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 7 — The current status of the country’s first Covid-19 vaccine development is at the laboratory or proof of concept (POC) stage, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Deputy Health Minister II, Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang said the research conducted for the vaccine development covered virus inactivated technology such as Sinovac and genetic sequencing or mRNA for the Pfizer vaccine.

He said full development of the vaccine was being spearheaded by local experts from the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) with the cooperation of experts from Universiti Putra Malaysia and Veterinary Research Institute.

“Producing this vaccine will take time to reach the levels of safety and effectiveness desired through phase three of the clinical trials and approval by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NRPA).

“(Covid-19) vaccine research is a new field in this country and the vaccine can be used after the clinical trials on animals and humans show it to be safe and effective.”

He said this to a question from Datuk Mohd Salim Sharif (BN-Jempol) at the Dewan Rakyat sitting today on the current developments since Covid-19 vaccines were administered in the country last November.

To Mohd Salim’s question on the cost of developing the vaccine, Aaron said the estimated preliminary cost at the POC stage was around RM1 million to RM2 million while the pre-clinical stage was expected to cost RM3 million to RM4 million.

“After this, there will be various stages more in creating the vaccine, manufacturing and marketing it that will cost millions of ringgit, hence we hope this effort is not only supported with government funding but also the involvement of the private sector,” he added.

To a question from Che Alias Hamid (PAS-Kemaman) on suicide cases, Aaron said the Home Ministry and Attorney-General’s Chambers had agreed to repeal Section 309 of the Penal Code on the offence of committing suicide.

“This will be brought to the Cabinet for a decision. We want to amend Section 309 so that committing suicide or trying to commit suicide is not considered an offence,” he added. — Bernama

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