MELBOURNE: Trial data from Pfizer Inc with partner BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc and AstraZeneca Plc has shown their experimental vaccines are effective in preventing the coronavirus.
If regulators approve any in coming weeks, the companies have said distribution could begin almost immediately.
But few Asian countries expect to receive big amounts initially. Here are estimated distribution timelines, supply deals announced and clinical trials being held in the region.
It has agreed to buy 135 million doses: 34 million from AstraZeneca, 40 million from Novavax Inc, 10 million from Pfizer and 51 million from CSL Ltd.
It expects delivery of 3.8 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in January and February next year.
China has not announced supply deals with Western drugmakers, which instead have partnered with private companies.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine may be approved in China by mid-2021 and its Chinese partner Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products plans annual production capacity of at least 100 million doses by end-2020.
For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, a unit of Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group plans a Phase II trial.
Tibet Rhodiola Pharmaceutical Holding 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 and state-owned Sinopharm for emergency use, and Sinopharm hopes its two candidates wil 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.
Experts said vaccine makers would need to conduct at least Phase I and II trials in Japan before seeking approval.
It aims to secure vaccines for 10 million people from COVAX and for 20 million more from separate deals with drugmakers by year-end.
It has an “optional purchase” arrangement with COVAX to select vaccines from specific makers. The timing of procurement and the amount depend on the output schedule of those vaccines, say health officials.
Inoculation is likely to start in the second quarter of next year to allow time to observe possible side effects.
The head of the Serum Institute of India, which makes the AstraZeneca vaccine, said on Nov 23 the positive late-state trial result of the candidate will allow it to seek emergency use approval by year-end, before securing the OK for a full rollout by February or March.
India also expects a government-backed vaccine to be launched as early as February, while it conducts a late-stage trial of Sputnik V.
Taiwan aims to secure around 15 million doses initially, both via the COVAX scheme and by directly purchase 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.
It agreed to buy 12.8 million doses of Pfizer vaccine, becoming the first country in Southeast Asia to announce a deal with the US drugmaker after some expressed reservations over the need for ultra-cold storage.
Pfizer will deliver the first batch of 1 million doses in the first quarter of next year.
It announced a deal on Nov 27 for 2.6 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and is discussing a possible 1 million more, covering about 1% of a population of 108 million.
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 done there.
Grouped among 92 low- and middle-income economies, it is entitled to access vaccines through COVAX for a fifth of its population, or about 106 million to 107 million doses, if each person gets two injections.
Indonesia is testing Sinovac vaccine and preparing mass vaccination for medical staff and other frontline workers to start as soon as late January.
A government official COVAX vaccines would cover only 20% of the population and the country is likely to have a chance to secure separate deals soon, as demand is very high.
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 GAVI at a subsidised rate, a senior health ministry official said.