PUTRAJAYA: Countries buying Covid-19 vaccines cannot disclose pricing details, a condition set by pharmaceutical companies, which is why the government cannot make public the cost for dosages bought from each company, says Khairy Jamaluddin.
The Science, Technology and Innovation Minister said this needed to be explained as the question of how much the government is paying each vaccine company had been raised by politicians and the public, especially on social media.
However, he indicated that if the purchase price of the vaccine by the European Union, which was made public by a Belgian lawmaker recently was anything to go by, “I am even happier with the price that we got.”
“We cannot disclose pricing details because of a non-disclosure agreement which we had to sign with the pharmaceutical companies. It is not just Malaysia which had to sign it, other countries were asked to do so too.
“Since the issue has been raised over and over again, I would like to offer the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to brief them on the process of purchasing the vaccines, including the cost.
“However, the members must agree to a non-confidentiality agreement.
“They will represent the rakyat in getting detailed information on this, ” he said when briefing the media on the latest update on procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.
Recently, a Belgian minister had blown the lid off a sensitive and commercial secret – the price the EU has agreed for vaccines.
Khairy said aside from posting his offer to PAC on Twitter, he had passed the word to the committee that he is at their disposal to brief its members on the matter.
He was concerned that the pricing issue of the vaccines, if prolonged, would affect the people’s confidence to accept inoculation.
“Speculation will result in vaccine hesitancy. Not only are people concerned about its safety and efficacy, now they have doubts over the price that we negotiated.
“I want to assure Malaysians their safety and the financial interest of the country are priorities when it comes to buying vaccines, ” he said.
Khairy said with the three confirmed purchases from Covax, Pfizer and AstraZeneca, as well as final negotiations with Sinovac and CanSinoBio from China and Gamaleya from Russia, Malaysia would have dosages to inoculate 82.8% of the population, surpassing the earlier projected 70%.
“There are questions on what happened to the rest of the population. From what we know, most clinical tests are done on adults. There have been no clinical trials carried out on children.
“For now, the Covid-19 vaccine supplies access guarantee special committee is not recommending vaccination be done on children and that would take out 20% to 30% of the population, ” he said.
Khairy also said that the committee, which he co-chairs with Health Minister Datuk Dr Adhan Baba, is preparing a national vaccination plan which will be tabled to the Cabinet early next month.
The plan covers, among others, which hospital to give vaccination to, how the public can register to be vaccinated voluntarily and other issues such as vaccination for foreign workers, expatriates, transportation and storage of the vaccines.