KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 — Kinabatangan MP Bung Moktar Radin today volunteered to be the first Malaysian to take a Covid-19 vaccine, as he called for vaccine supplies to be expedited.
The Umno lawmaker from Sabah pointed out that Indonesia has already made Covid-19 vaccine agreements with pharmaceutical companies from China; Malaysia has booked vaccine doses from US pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc and the global COVAX Facility.
“If we need to test it early on, I will be the first person to volunteer myself. Test lah. I’m not afraid, I want to be healthy,” Bung said during his debate on the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) 2021 budget at the committee stage in the Dewan Rakyat.
“I’ll tell people out there not to worry. The producers guarantee that these are genuine and not counterfeit vaccines; they’re not fake. With these vaccines, we can free our community from getting Covid-19 infection.”
Bung Moktar also questioned why the Ministry of Health (MOH) did not work with private hospitals that have offered to take in non-Covid patients from public facilities.
“In Tawau, private hospitals have offered to be rented, but MOH didn’t take steps to facilitate these patients. In fact, they were sent to other districts, and other districts too have been exposed to Covid outbreaks,” he told Parliament.
“If there are private hospitals that make offers, of course this opens up good opportunities, and patients can be handled well. In these hospitals, Covid must be separated from non-Covid patients. If they are combined, the disease will spread.”
Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin clarified in Parliament that the government’s only Covid-19 vaccine agreements are with Pfizer and the COVAX Facility co-led by the World Health Organization, both of which were direct procurements without the use of any middlemen, covering 30 per cent of the Malaysian population.
Any distribution of government-procured Covid-19 vaccines, he said, would only be given to companies that have the capacity to maintain the stability of the vaccines. The mRNA vaccine by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, a two-dose regimen, requires a storage temperature of minus 70 degrees’ Celsius, well beyond the capacity of local pharmaceutical distributors.
Through the government’s preliminary purchasing agreement with Pfizer, the vaccine producer has agreed to deliver to Malaysia 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.