Malaysia Paying RM94Mil Upfront For COVAX Vaccines Covering 10% Population

Under the COVAX Facility’s Optional Purchase arrangement, Malaysia can decide which Covid-19 vaccines to buy, but risks a delay in getting doses under the initial phase if only one or two approved vaccines are available and quantities are limited.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 — The government will pay RM94.08 million upfront to purchase Covid-19 vaccines from the global COVAX plan to cover 10 per cent of the Malaysian population.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told Parliament today that Malaysia has opted for the Optional Purchase arrangement under the COVAX Facility, which is co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), that will cost Malaysia US$22,656,200 in upfront payment and risk-sharing guarantee.

“Currently, the Ministry of Health and GAVI are finalising a date to sign this agreement,” Khairy said during Minister’s Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat. GAVI, the vaccine alliance, is one of the coordinators of the COVAX Facility.

When asked where the RM94 million payment for COVAX would come from, Khairy’s office told the media: “We have existing funds that can be used to cover the upfront payment — confirmed by MOF (Ministry of Finance).

CodeBlue previously reported that the COVAX Facility’s Optional Purchase arrangement is about three times cheaper in overall upfront costs than the Committed Purchase arrangement (all-inclusive costs will be expected to be the same for both arrangements), and enables participants to decide which vaccines to buy.

However, COVAX has warned participating economies that under the Optional Purchase arrangement, “deciding not to purchase a particular candidate may delay the time until a participant receives doses, particularly in the initial phase where there may only be one or two approved vaccines available and the quantities could be limited”.

The Committed Purchase arrangement, on the other hand, allows participants to opt out of candidate vaccines only based on price. COVAX has set an all-inclusive price of US$10.55 per dose, or US$21.10 to vaccinate one person on a two-dose regimen. This means a Covid-19 vaccine from COVAX would cost Malaysia about RM86 per person.

A comparison of advantages between the Optional Purchase and Committed Purchase arrangements, according to COVAX, shows relatively low upfront cost, with less funding at risk and remaining payments directly tied to doses, under the Committed Purchase arrangement.

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