PETALING JAYA: Rich countries cornering 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.
“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 the Covid-19 Immunisation Programme said in a statement yesterday.
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 the Covid-19 vaccine portfolio to include Pfizer, AstraZeneca but 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.
At the moment, he said that demand for the vaccine outstripped supply but assured there would be ample supply of vaccines to achieve the target of 80% vaccination of the population 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, ” he said.
On Tuesday, Khairy tweeted that to allay concerns with regard to supply of vaccines for the country.
Khairy, who is also Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, shared a graph by the Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccines.
The graph also showed that current total registrations stood at about nine million while the supply was under three million as at April.
However, starting June, the supply and demand will be in tandem, before the vaccine supply is expected to slowly increase 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, which will prioritise the elderly, those with comorbidity problems and people with disabilities, 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 at Monday (April 12).