PETALING JAYA: Rich countries hoarding the Covid-19 vaccine market is one of the main reasons why the present supply of the vaccines remains low for Malaysia, says Khairy Jamaluddin (pic).
"One of the biggest reasons for low vaccine supplies in Malaysia and other middle income countries is that rich countries have cornered the Covid-19 vaccine market.
"Some rich countries have bought enough vaccines for their citizens three to five times over," the coordinating minister for Covid-19 Immunisation Programme said in a statement on Wednesday (April 14).
As such, he noted that many pharmaceutical companies would give preference to the richer nations, forcing middle income countries such as Malaysia to manage the supply of vaccines from several sources.
"That is also why Malaysia has had to balance our Covid-19 vaccine portfolio to include Pfizer, AstraZeneca and also those from non-Western countries like Sinovac (China)," he said.
Based on delivery schedules, Khairy said that Malaysia will start getting a more steady and ample supply of vaccines in June when the nation's mass vaccination exercise is expected to be in full swing.
He said that the demand for the vaccine in Malaysia outstrips supply, but added that there would be an ample supply of vaccines to achieve the 80% population immunisation target before the end of this year.
"So while I know everyone is anxious about getting their Covid-19 vaccination, I would also like to manage expectations with the reality of vaccine availability. I will continue to push for more vaccine supplies to arrive quicker," said Khairy.
On Tuesday (April 13), Khairy shared a graph by the special committee on ensuring access to Covid-19 vaccines on Twitter to allay concerns with regard to supply of vaccines for the country.
The graph also showed that current total registrations stood at about nine million while the supply was under three million as of April.
However, starting June, the supply and demand will be in tandem before the vaccine supply is expected to slowly climb up to finally cover 80% of the population - or about 27 million people - by October.
Phase one of the vaccine rollout programme was from February to April and involved frontliners.
The second phase of the vaccine rollout will prioritise the elderly, those with comorbidities and people with disabilities and will start on April 19.
The third phase of the national immunisation programme is slated to begin in May for low-risk individuals above 18 years old.
Meanwhile, a total of 8,602,156 people had registered for the vaccine as of Monday (April 12).