KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 — The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has asked Health Minister Dr Adham Baba to explain why Malaysia is not on board with the global COVAX Covid-19 vaccine access plan.
COVAX — co-led by GAVI, an international vaccine alliance; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI); and WHO — is a pooled procurement mechanism that aims to provide participating economies fair and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines. A total of 172 economies have expressed interest in joining COVAX, including Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam among several Asean countries.
“The Ministry of Health (MOH) has a responsibility to explain to the rakyat why Malaysia has not signed on for the COVAX vaccine plan,” MMA president Dr N. Ganabaskaran said in a statement released today.
“Malaysia is not among the 172 countries that have signed up and today, September 18, is the deadline.”
MMA said it believes that signing up for the COVAX vaccine plan can be an added option that will guarantee access to vaccines for Covid-19, even if Malaysia has its own bilateral negotiations for a vaccine.
“We urge MOH to be transparent on its plans to acquire vaccines for the country. The rakyat have a right to know and the government has a duty to keep the country informed,” said the doctors’ group.
MMA stated that they understand that there may be safety concerns on vaccine development being fast-tracked, but also highlighted that any potential vaccine will be thoroughly evaluated through stringent checks by MOH for efficacy and safety before they are approved and declared safe for the population.
“Even if MOH needs more time, beyond the COVAX vaccination plan deadline to decide, the rakyat must know,” Dr Ganabaskaran said.
“The health minister must respond now, or he may have to answer to the rakyat later on why Malaysia is last in the queue for the vaccines.”
The deadline for participation in the global COVAX Covid-19 vaccine access plan is today but Dr Adham, who previously said on September 3 that Malaysia has no plans yet to join COVAX, told CodeBlue yesterday that Malaysia is still communicating with the World Health Organization (WHO).