Not fair to blame govt for Covid-19 vaccine wastage, says MMA

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has come to the defence of the government over claims of the high amount of wastage of the Covid-19 vaccine.

It claimed in a statement on Friday (June 9) that the reason for the wastage was actually the non-existent demand for the vaccine after the first booster shots were rolled out.

Below is the statement in full.

Unfair to blame govt for vaccine wastage. Demand for vaccines dropped after 1st booster rollout.

It would be unfair to put the blame on the government for the high wastage in doses of the Covid-19 vaccines as at the time of procuring the vaccines, every country was rushing to secure enough vaccines for their population. Due to the high global demand for the vaccines, there were concerns over the supply. I think it was right to assume at the time that everyone was going to be vaccinated.

We did achieve a high percentage of full vaccinations however, uptake for the vaccines had dropped during and after the rollout of the 1st booster. By around this time, most economic sectors were opening up and the number of COVID-19 infections was on the decline. We can't blame the government for a low uptake in booster shots. There was ample supply but many chose not to get the boosters even though it was recommended by the health ministry and medical experts. The MOH had done its part in educating the public on the importance of boosters.

It should also be noted that proof of full vaccination is no longer a requirement for air travel hence it is likely that a percentage of people who did not want to be vaccinated in the first place, would have remained unvaccinated.

Considering the high demand for vaccines at the start of 2021, we feel the government did well in securing more than enough vaccines for the population. At the time, every country's health ministry would have targeted a 90 to 100% vaccination and booster rate but the demand for vaccines dipped by the time the programme for booster shots had rolled out.

Of course, with any spending of public funds, transparency must be insisted upon but there were Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) between pharmaceutical companies and the government that the govt had to honour in order to secure vaccine supply. Any breaches of the NDA could have resulted in lawsuits.

Overall, we believe the government at the time did its best to negotiate for the best deal for the vaccines but we may not have had the bargaining power due to the high global demand.

The AGC did do its part in identifying clauses in Malaysia's vaccine procurement agreement with Pfizer that it found not in favour of the government and had proposed amendments.

It was also a good move that the govt did not fully rely on one vaccine supplier by procuring vaccines from AstraZeneca and Sinovac.

Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai

Malaysian Medical Association president

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Covid-19 , MMA , Wastage , Vaccine


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