When and which Covid-19 vaccines are likely to be available in major Asian countries
While regulatory processes are underway, few Asian countries expect to receive significant amounts of the vaccines initially. Here are estimated distribution time lines, supply deals announced and clinical trials being held in the region.
The head of the Serum Institute of India, which makes the AstraZeneca vaccine, said on November 23 the positive late-state trial result of the candidate will allow it to seek emergency use approval by year-end, before securing approval for full introduction by February or March.
India also expects a government-backed vaccine to be launched as early as February. It is also conducting a late-stage trial of Sputnik V.
Bangladesh signed a deal with India’s Serum Institute to buy 30 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
It also expects to receive 68 million doses from global vaccine alliance GAVI at a subsidised rate, a senior health ministry official said.
The archipelago announced a deal on November 27 for 2.6 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and is discussing a possible 1 million more, covering about 1 per cent of a population of 108 million people.
It is also seeking 20 million to 50 million doses from Sinovac and is in talks with others, including Pfizer.
Vaccine makers can seek approval from Philippine regulators even if no clinical trial is conducted in the country.
Southeast Asia’s most populous country has secured 125.5 million doses from Sinovac, 30 million from Novavax, is in talks with AstraZeneca and Pfizer to buy 50 million doses each, and expects to get 16 million from Covax.
Indonesia is testing Sinovac’s vaccine and preparing mass vaccination for medical staff and other frontline workers to start as soon as late January.
The country has secured around 140 million doses: 53.8 million from AstraZeneca, 51 million from Novavax Inc, 10 million from Pfizer, and 25.5 million from distribution programme Covax.
It expects delivery of 3.8 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in January and February next year and plans to begin inoculations in March.
China has not announced supply deals with Western drugmakers, which instead have partnered with private companies in the country.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine may be approved in China by mid-2021 and its Chinese partner Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products Co Ltd plans annual production capacity of at least 100 million doses by the end of this year.
For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, a unit of Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd plans a Phase II trial.
Tibet Rhodiola Pharmaceutical Holding Co is bringing in Russian vaccine candidate Sputnik V and plans early and mid-stage trials in China.
China has also approved three vaccine candidates developed by Sinovac Biotech Ltd and state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) for emergency use, and Sinopharm hopes its two candidates will get conditional approval for general use this year.
Japan has deals to buy 120 million doses from Pfizer/BioNTech in the first half of next year and 120 million from AstraZeneca — the first 30 million of which will be shipped by March 2021 — and 250 million from Novavax.
It is also in talks with Johnson & Johnson and has a deal with Shionogi & Co Ltd.
Experts said vaccine makers would need to conduct at least Phase I and II trials in Japan before seeking approval for use.
The country has deals to buy 20 million doses each from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna and another 4 million doses from Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen, enough to cover up to 34 million people.
It will procure additional doses for 10 million people through Covax.
Inoculation is likely to start in the second quarter of next year to allow time to observe possible side effects.
Taiwan aims to secure around 15 million doses initially, both via the Covax scheme and by direct purchases from manufacturers, and may buy an additional 15 million doses.
The government has said it hopes to begin vaccinations in the first quarter next year.
The Southeast Asian nation has agreed to buy 12.8 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, becoming the first country in the region to announce a deal with the US drugmaker after some expressed reservations over the need for the ultra-cold storage that the vaccine requires.
Pfizer will deliver the first batch of 1 million doses in the first quarter of next year.
A government official said Covax vaccines would cover only 20 per cent of the population and the country is likely to have a chance to secure separate deals soon, as demand is very high.