KUALA LUMPUR: Phase three of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Plan, which is supposed to start in May, could be delayed if vaccine supplies do not arrive, says Khairy Jamaluddin.
"Phase 3 is supposed to start in May. But I don't know if we have enough supplies. We will make an announcement on that," said the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister during a press conference at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) on Wednesday (May 5).
He reiterated that the slow pace of the vaccination programme was not on the government, but pharmaceutical companies which were prioritising rich countries.
"We gave appointments to more than 260,000 people in one day. It's not that we can't do it fast, but it's the supply of vaccines that are slow.
"Pharmaceutical companies prioritise rich countries and give them deals which were not offered to developing countries.
"That is something that the international community will have to discuss – not just about managing Covid-19 but also in terms of future pandemic management," he said.
Khairy acknowledged that many Malaysians want to be vaccinated, but there simply was not enough stocks presently.
However, Khairy assured that there would be more slots for vaccination from June, as richer countries had already inoculated most of their citizens.
He likened the situation from the tragedy of the Titanic ocean liner and the hit movie based on it.
"From a scene in 'Titanic' – the guys in low-class are waiting for lifeboats while the guys in the rich cabins have already escaped on lifeboats. This is what's happening," he added.
On individuals who were in control trials for the AstraZeneca vaccine, Khairy said only fever side effects had been reported so far.
Khairy also said members of the media will be included in the second phase of vaccinations later in May.
"I have already discussed this with media outlets and we have got the lists of journalists," he said.
The AstraZeneca vaccine began to roll out on May 5 at four vaccination centres – Universiti Malaya, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, PWTC and the Ideal Convention Centre in Shah Alam.
Khairy, who was in PWTC, said there were 2,468 appointments at PWTC, 996 at Universiti Malaya and 928 at UKM.
"I plan to open up AstraZeneca vaccination centres in other states, focussing on red zone states."
Later in May, 1.1 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from the Covax facility are set to arrive.
Another 610,000 doses are expected to arrive in June, followed by about 410,000 in July, coming directly from AstraZeneca.
In August and September, another batch of 1.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are due to arrive.