PETALING JAYA: The offer to supply 200,000 Covid-19 Sinovac vaccine doses procured by the Vinod Sekhar Trust under the Petra Group for free to the government is genuine and is meant for the poor.
Petra Group chief government liaison officer Datuk Dr William Stevenson said the group and the Vinod Sekhar Trust were not associated with any other parties offering free vaccines.
"We, in fact, only want to purchase and provide approved vaccines for free, to the most vulnerable," he said in a statement on Wednesday (May 19).
Stevenson said the clarification was necessary after certain allegations were made, adding that the Petra Group is presently dealing with the alleged defamation via its lawyers.
Stevenson said the Petra Group had a fruitful virtual meeting with Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin on Wednesday (May 19) over the matter.
He said in the meeting, the Petra Group reiterated its sincerity in making the vaccines available to the most vulnerable groups.
"We also emphasised that we are offering the vaccines for free with no strings attached and this is not a commercial arrangement," he said.
At the same time, Stevenson said that Petra Group had conducted the necessary checks on the manufacturers and distributors of the Sinovac vaccines it had procured to ensure that it is genuine.
Recently, news portal The Vibes reported that the Vinod Sekhar Trust, the humanitarian arm of holding company Petra Group, wanted to assist the government by providing 200,000 vaccine doses.
It stated it had sent an official letter to the Health Ministry over the matter in early March.
The Petra Group also publishes The Vibes.
The Vinod Sekhar Trust is linked with businessman and philanthropist Datuk Vinod Sekhar.
Previously, Khairy said the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) welcomed efforts by any outside party who wanted to help the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme or states by contributing vaccines.
However, this would be allowed on the condition that the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) had approved the vaccines for use in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, Stevenson said that during the virtual meeting with Khairy, they disclosed that the Petra Group was able to bring in the vaccines directly and was seeking guidance on the correct means and appropriate channels to do so.
Stevenson said the Petra Group had written to Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba on March 8 and to Khairy on March 31 and to the NPRA on May 5 to express their intention to contribute to the vaccine procurement as a form of "national service".
"We also explained to the minister (Khairy) that once the government is satisfied that our offer ticks all the right boxes, we will make the necessary arrangements and formalities to obtain the approvals needed to bring in the vaccines," he said.
Stevenson said the Petra Group was encouraged by the government's assurances that it would facilitate the distribution of the Sinovac vaccines once they had provided all the necessary documentation to support their procurement from the manufacturer via an approved distributor.
"We thank the minister (Khairy) for his help and advice and we also appreciate the enormous responsibility he shoulders as CITF chairman," he said.
"We look forward to working closely with his office in ensuring the speedy arrival of these doses of Sinovac," he added.