KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 — Jelutong MP RSN Rayer questioned the government today on when Malaysia would receive Covid-19 vaccines, as several countries have started rolling out mass vaccination programmes.
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced Monday that Singapore would receive the first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine by the end of this year, after its Health Sciences Authority approved the vaccine by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, for pandemic use.
New York Times reported that the first shots of Pfizer’s vaccine, the first coronavirus vaccine approved by the US for emergency-use authorisation during the Covid-19 pandemic, were administered in Queens, New York, last Monday. The UK, the first country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, began its mass Covid-19 vaccination programme on December 8.
“How fast can the vaccines be brought into Malaysia?” Rayer said while debating the Finance Bill 2020 in the Dewan Rakyat today.
Subang MP Wong Chen noted that despite regulatory approval of Pfizer’s vaccine in the UK and the US, “Malaysia is not certain to get sufficient vaccines by the first quarter of 2021”.
“Covid-19 cases in Malaysia are about 1,000 a day, sometimes 2,000,” Wong said during his debate.
“If this continues, I worry that by the first quarter of 2021, we may enforce the MCO (Movement Control Order) or CMCO (Conditional Movement Control Order), and this will affect our economy directly and, indirectly, corporate and individual income tax collection will fall.”
Malaysia has signed agreements with Pfizer and the global COVAX Facility to secure Covid-19 vaccines covering 30 per cent of the population, including 12.8 million doses from Pfizer to immunise 6.4 million people on a two-dose regimen. One million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is expected to arrive in Malaysia by March next year.
Rayer questioned how New Zealand was able to successfully contain its Covid-19 epidemic, after the country was declared “Covid free”. BBC reported Monday that New Zealand has agreed to a quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia “in principle”; New Zealand has reported only a few Covid-19 cases after declaring itself to be free of the coronavirus in June.
Kuala Kedah MP Dr Azman Ismail pointed out that Thailand was considered the best model in successfully controlling Covid-19 without a vaccine.
“Even though they’re the first country outside China to get hit by Covid, but only 60 deaths have been reported so far; [the epidemic has] been controlled very well. I see pictures of Patani, people going to pasar, kenduri, not wearing masks, and there is no [virus] transmission. That’s very interesting,” Dr Azman said while interjecting Rayer.
Besides New Zealand and Thailand successfully controlling their coronavirus epidemics, Australia has also essentially contained its epidemic, reporting an average of just 10 Covid-19 cases daily in the past week. Yesterday, the state of Victoria recorded zero new locally transmitted coronavirus cases for the 46th consecutive day.
Malaysia’s third wave of its epidemic has been surging in recent weeks, reporting an average of 1,616 daily Covid-19 cases in the past week.