Bioalpha plans to roll out COVID-19 vaccine by April, targets private sector

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25  -- Bioalpha International Sdn Bhd (BISB) has signed an agreement to procure Sinovac Biotech-developed COVID-19 vaccine from a unit of Chinese state-owned Sinopharm Group Co Ltd, and is planning to distribute it in Malaysia by mid-April if relevant approvals are received.

 BISB, which is wholly owned by Bioalpha Holdings Bhd, today inked a procurement and distribution agreement with Shanghai Bukun Trading Co Ltd (SBTC) to obtain the vaccine on “ready-to-administer” basis -- that is, already filled in vials and does not require further fill and finish processing. 

Under the two-year agreement, BISB would purchase a total of 100,000 doses from SBTC for the initial batch, while subsequent orders could go up to one million doses, Bioalpha Holdings managing director William Hon said during a virtual press conference today.

“The company targets to distribute the vaccine in Malaysia by mid-April, depending on the approval by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) of the Ministry of Health,” he said.

He said Bioalpha would be submitting an application to NPRA as soon as possible for the registration of the vaccine in Malaysia, relying on clinical data from China, Indonesia, Turkey and Brazil.

Hon said the vaccine would be delivered to BISB three weeks after payment was made.

According to him, the company will finance the working capital for this project by internally generated funds or bank borrowings and will not have to incur capital expenditure to set up any fill-and-finish facility. 

Given the great demand from the private sector, he said, the vaccine would be targeted for expatriates as well as foreign workers from various industries who were considered a vulnerable group to the virus.

 “There are challenges in relation to the foreign workers’ dormitories and transportation where they tend to congregate in large number. Thus vaccination is the crucial solution to curb the spread of the virus and enable  businesses to maintain smooth operations,” he added.

SBTC, which offers trading services as well as technology development and transfer, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sinopharm (Hainan) Health Industry Co Ltd, which in turn is part of Sinopharm Group Co Ltd or the China National Pharmaceutical Group Corporation.

On the distribution of the vaccine, Hon said BISB inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Zuellig Pharma Sdn Bhd on Friday last week to facilitate the importation, warehousing and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in Malaysia. 

Zuellig Pharma is believed to among the largest vaccine distributors in the country currently, with healthcare distribution facilities both in the peninsula (the Klang Valley) as well as in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching. 

BISB has also entered into an MoU with iHEAL Medical Services Sdn Bhd, which owns and operates the iHeal Medical Centre Kuala Lumpur.

iHeal is expected to provide services such as arranging on-site vaccine administration exercise with a mobile team of medical practitioners, designating a large space to undertake mass vaccination efficiently, and providing a certificate of vaccination and professional consultation post-vaccination.

Thus Hon expected sales for the Bioalpha group to pick up for the first quarter of 2021 and no huge capex would be incurred for this year.

On other developments, he said the integrated nutraceutical and health supplement company was looking at other vaccines, including from Sinopharm, in the coming years.

“However, our main focus for the next two years will be the COVID-19 vaccines and halal vaccines either from Indonesia or China,” he added.






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