KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 7): The government has so far only dealt with pharmaceutical company Pfizer and the Covid-19 vaccine global access (COVAX) for Covid-19 vaccine procurement, according to Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin.
Other arrangements done by private companies are purely commercial deals that have nothing to do with the government, he told the Dewan Rakyat today. These arrangements, nevertheless, must be approved by Malaysia's medical regulators such as the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency.
"I would like to inform market investors in Malaysia that the announcements [by private companies related to Covid-19 vaccines] do not mean that they are procured by the government. So far, the only procurement made by the government is with COVAX for 10% of the population, and Pfizer for 20% of the population. These arrangements are made directly by the government without the use of any middleman or third party," Khairy said.
Khairy was responding to the concerns raised by Kuala Selangor member of Parliament (MP) and former health minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii on the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines by the government.
Specifically, Yii pointed to My EG Services Bhd (MyEG), which recently announced that it had entered into a cooperation with Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co Ltd to conduct phase-three clinical trials and subsequent commercialisation of its Covid-19 vaccine in Malaysia.
Yii questioned how MyEG, with no track record in logistics or medical supplies, can be allowed to approach such contracts.
To this, Khairy clarified that any local company is allowed to negotiate with international companies to be their agent or distributor of Covid-19 vaccines in Malaysia.
"We cannot control if they want to make a commercial arrangement with other vaccine manufacturers from outside of Malaysia. But they must get the necessary approvals from Malaysia's regulators," he said.
During his winding up speech on the debate on Budget 2021 at the Dewan Rakyat today, Khairy also dismissed the allegation by Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who claimed that the government had exhausted the entire RM3 billion of its allocation to buy Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer.
"I can categorically state in the Dewan Rakyat today that those claims are baseless and not true at all. I cannot disclose the actual price of the procurement with Pfizer due to the NDA (non-disclosure agreement). But our agreement with Pfizer and also with COVAX is still way within our reach of the RM3 billion for 70% of the population," Khairy said.
Razaleigh had questioned if Malaysia was rushing into a deal to purchase 12.8 million doses of the vaccine that would only cover 6.4 million people or 20% of the population.
On Nov 27, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the government, through the Health Ministry, had signed a preliminary purchasing agreement with Pfizer to obtain 12.8 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to meet the immunisation needs of 20% or 6.4 million Malaysians.
The agreement, signed on Nov 24, is aimed to ensure the government has access to data regarding the vaccine's quality, safety and effectiveness while also ensuring access once it is ready for distribution.
Earlier in September, Khairy said Malaysia would be joining 172 countries to participate in COVAX to obtain access to the supply of Covid-19 vaccines.
He said the Malaysian government was also preparing the agreement to join the Coalition for Epidemic and Preparedness Innovations, and a government-to-government pact with the Chinese government to gain access to vaccines developed by pharmaceutical companies in China.
The allocation for the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation was today passed by the Dewan Rakyat in a voice vote with no objection from the opposition bloc. So far, nine ministries' budget allocations have been approved with voice votes.
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