‘Malaysia unaffected by vaccine supply issues’


Reports by MARTIN CARVALHO, HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM, RAHIMY RAHIM and TARRENCE TAN

ISSUES related to Covid-19 vaccine supply faced by pharmaceutical firm Pfizer as claimed by world media will not affect Malaysia, which is set to receive its supply during the first quarter of next year, says Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin (pic).

He also said the logistical costs for the vaccine would be borne by Pfizer.

“In our agreement with Pfizer, the costs we paid for each dose also cover transportation borne by the company.

“The deals on (logistical cost) varies and it depends on the different companies.

“The final cost of it all is being looked into because it does not only involve transportation but also storage. We will scrutinise it when we get a clearer picture, ” Khairy told Fahmi Fadzil (PH-Lembah Pantai), who had asked about the government’s preparations to receive the vaccines and the additional costs involved for logistics on top of the RM3bil allocation.

Fahmi also asked about the government’s preparedness for a disruption in the supply chain for the vaccine, such as the one experienced by Pfizer recently.

Khairy said he was aware of media reports on the challenges in Pfizer’s supply chain for raw materials for its vaccines, which caused the company to slash its production target for 2020.

“But the same report also says it’s only for this year. I was informed by Pfizer this will not affect the supply for next year, which is for Malaysia.

“Malaysia has taken the portfolio vaccine approach to ensure that we have enough supplies.

“If we only depend on one company, that may open us up to risks in securing enough vaccines, ” Khairy said.

In a Reuters report on Dec 4, Pfizer anticipated producing 50 million doses of the vaccine this year. This is down from an earlier target of 100 million doses.

Pfizer’s vaccine requires a two-dose region, which means the 50 million doses is only sufficient to inoculate 25 million people.

Khairy rubbished allegations from Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah that the government exhausted all RM3bil of its allocation to purchase the vaccine from Pfizer that could only cover 20% of the population.

Khairy said the RM3bil budget for vaccines would cover all expenses including procurement, transportation and storage.

The House passed the Budget 2021 allocation of RM935mil for the ministry, making it the 14th ministry to have its budget approved at the committee stage.

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