SINGAPORE, June 29 (Reuters) – Zuellig Pharma, Moderna’s supplier partner for COVID-19 vaccines in Southeast Asia, said on Tuesday that regional mRNA vaccine orders were almost fully booked for this year, highlighting supply issues for countries slowing down. .
Zuellig, headquartered in Singapore, is involved in the distribution, regulatory approvals and procurement contracts of Moderna Inc’s (MRNA.O) vaccines for use in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
“A large part of the transactions that are being done today will be for 2022 … because the supply of Moderna vaccine is already nearly exhausted for 2021,” Zuellig CEO John Graham told Reuters.
Graham said there will be some availability towards the end of this year.
“But you have to assume that if you start trading today, you are looking at 2022 before you get a supply,” he added.
Still, the situation could change depending on supply dynamics, he said. Graham declined to provide details of the negotiations or the agreements, citing confidentiality.
Sourcing efforts in the region have been accelerated by a coronavirus outbreak in recent months that has exacerbated stubborn epidemics in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines and strained authorities in Thailand, Vietnam, in Cambodia and Singapore, where previous epidemics had been quickly contained.
Many countries in the densely populated region have vaccinated less than 10% of their population with at least one dose, leaving them vulnerable to epidemics and new, more transmissible variants.
Vaccine deployment in the region has also been impacted by supply disruptions to the global COVAX vaccine sharing program, which seeks to close a 200 million dose gap due to export restrictions from India’s main supplier.
Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and Taiwan are among those who have researched or signed agreements for Moderna or have already started receiving batches of vaccine.
“There are also countries that are already purchasing a vaccine for a booster (injections) in 2022-2023,” added Graham de Zuellig. “There is a race to get the supply.”
South Korea said on Tuesday it plans to get more mRNA vaccines as a booster vaccine next year. Read more
Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Martin Petty
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