KJ: States can buy vaccines

PETALING JAYA: State governments will not be prevented from buying their own Covid-19 vaccines, says Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin (pic).

However, if they are buying the vaccines from the same companies that supply vaccines to the Federal Government, the latter’s orders will be given priority.

Khairy, who is the coordinating minister of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, said this was in accordance with the purchase agreements signed between the Federal Government and the pharmaceutical companies supplying the vaccines.

Besides state governments, this condition also applies to industries and private hospitals wanting to procure their own supply.

However, this does not apply to vaccines that are not part of the national immunisation programme, in which case states are allowed to buy them as long as they are approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).

“But the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force takes note that the vaccines many states are trying to get – Selangor for example – are from the same pharmaceutical companies supplying the national programme, ” Khairy said in a statement yesterday.

He also reiterated the fact that the national programme was committed to providing free and sufficient vaccinations to all members of the public who qualify for it, in every state.

On the contribution of vaccines from outside parties, Khairy said the taskforce welcomed efforts to aid the national immunisation programme or the states but this must be done on the condition that the vaccines receive the nod from the NPRA.

“Currently the three vaccines that have received NPRA approval are the Pfizer, Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines.

“The taskforce has taken note of the Sekhar Foundation’s intention to provide Sinovac vaccines to the national programme.

“Nevertheless, after checking with Sinovac in China and Pharmaniaga, which is the licensee for the Sinovac vaccine in Malaysia, no application or purchase nor official documents (pertaining to the matter) have been submitted by the Sekhar Foundation, ” he added.

The Sekhar Foundation is linked to businessman and philanthropist Datuk Vinod Sekhar.

Recently, news portal The Vibes – also owned by Vinod – reported that the Vinod Sekhar Trust, the humanitarian arm of Vinod’s holding company Petra Group, wanted to help by supplying 200,000 doses of vaccine.

It added that an official letter on the matter was sent to the Health Ministry in early March.

Khairy said the Covid-19 taskforce wanted to clarify that there was no obstruction against the Sekhar Foundation or any other party helping with vaccine purchases, but this must be done through the right channels.

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