KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia said on Wednesday (Nov 17) it has signed an agreement with China to cooperate on the development of a safe and efficacious vaccine, as part of efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the agreement, in force for an initial period of five years, Malaysia will be given priority access to COVID-19 vaccines developed by China.
Both will share knowledge and expertise and facilitate scientific and technological capabilities to advance vaccine development in their countries, Malaysia said in a joint ministerial statement.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin signed the agreement with his Chinese counterpart Wang Zhigang in a virtual ceremony.
READ: Malaysia in final stage of talks with COVID-19 vaccine producers, aims to roll out immunisations by Q1
Cooperation between Malaysia and China under the agreement would be supervised by a committee chaired by the foreign affairs ministers of both countries that was formed in October to address post-pandemic challenges.
"Both countries will also support the participation of their public and private sectors including universities, institutions, societies and organisations in joint collaborative projects," the Malaysian ministries said.
Malaysia said on Monday it is in the final stage of discussions with COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers and hopes to roll out immunisations by the first quarter of next year. Malaysia is in talks with 10 COVID-19 vaccine producers that are in Phase 3 trials, said Mr Khairy.
660 NEW COVID-19 CASES
The health ministry on Wednesday reported 660 new COVID-19 infections, taking the national tally to 50,390. There were also four new fatalities, bringing the total deaths to 322.
Sabah accounted for 387 cases while 141 infections were recorded in Selangor.
The health ministry said the number of available hospital beds in the Klang Valley have been increased from 345 to 4,739 in preparation for a potential spike in infections. A total of 103 patients remain warded in the intensive care unit, with 41 requiring ventilation support.
Deputy director-general of health Rohaizat Yon said the health ministry's various strategies have helped to keep the number of COVID-19 fatalities in Malaysia low at nine deaths per 1 million population.
Dr Rohaizat said an analysis showed that the majority of COVID-19 deaths in Malaysia were mainly patients aged 50 and above, who accounted for 85.4 per cent of all deaths.
“Other major factors that also contribute to the death of COVID-19 patients are comorbidities such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease as well as the duration of patients seeking treatment at health facilities," he said.