KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — Malaysia’s agreement with Pfizer Inc includes the cost of transport of the pharmaceutical company’s Covid-19 vaccine beyond the price of doses itself, Khairy Jamaluddin said today.
The science, technology and innovation minister also told the Dewan Rakyat that the American pharmaceutical company has informed Putrajaya that problems in its supply chain would not affect vaccine supply for Malaysia for the year 2021.
Reuters reported Friday that challenges in Pfizer’s supply chain for raw materials in its Covid-19 vaccine had played a role in the pharmaceutical company’s decision to halve its 2020 production target from an earlier goal of 100 million doses to 50 million doses this year.
“In the same media report, they said this problem only affects 2020 supply. As far as I know, what was informed to us by Pfizer, this doesn’t affect their supply for the Malaysian government next year,” Khairy told Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil during Question Time in Parliament.
“However, if there are any problems with the supply chain, that’s the reason why Malaysia, like other countries, is taking the approach of obtaining a portfolio of vaccines, not just from one company, but from various companies to ensure sufficient supply. If we obtain vaccines from just one company, this may open us up to risks of not getting sufficient vaccines.”
The minister added that Malaysia’s preliminary purchasing agreement on Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine, which requires ultra-cold storage of minus 70 degrees’ Celsius, covered logistics cost.
“Our agreement with Pfizer on the costs we pay for each dose also covers transport that will be borne by Pfizer.”
He added that the final costs of Covid-19 vaccines for Malaysia, including transport and storage, were still under discussion, depending on the country’s agreements with various vaccine developers, after Fahmi asked if these vaccines would cost beyond the RM3 billion allocated in Budget 2021.
Malaysia has so far signed two agreements to guarantee Covid-19 vaccines for 30 per cent of the population: the Pfizer deal signed on November 24 to vaccinate 20 per cent of the Malaysian population with 12.8 million doses, as well as an Optional Purchase arrangement with global COVAX Facility, co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), signed on November 23 to vaccinate 10 per cent of the Malaysian population.
“To achieve the target of vaccinating the remaining 40 per cent (of the population), the government is still in the process of discussing and negotiating with other pharmaceutical companies developing Covid-19 vaccines. To immunise the public, the government has targeted the first quarter of 2021 to obtain the first supply of Covid-19 vaccines,” Khairy said today.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced last November 27 that under an agreement with the Malaysian government, Pfizer has agreed to deliver one million doses in the first quarter of next year, followed by 1.7 million doses in the second quarter, 5.8 million in the third quarter and 4.3 million doses in the fourth quarter.
Malaysia’s local pharmaceutical distributors currently have very limited capacity to store or deliver large quantities of vaccines at Arctic temperatures. Khairy previously said Pfizer would ship and directly deliver its Covid-19 vaccine to Malaysia next year, though he did not specify if Pfizer’s delivery would extend all the way to vaccination sites.