KUALA LUMPUR, March 1 — The Malaysian government will not yet permit the private sector to run a parallel Covid-19 vaccination programme, Khairy Jamaluddin said today.
When asked if companies can buy vaccines for their workers, as most Covid-19 clusters in the country were reported at workplaces and factories, Khairy said: “We will look at that later once the national immunisation process is underway.”
“There is also no supplies for private hospitals at the moment. But, we will consider it later.”
The vaccines minister did not specify what local pharmaceutical company Pharmaniaga Berhad can do with its two million Sinovac doses that it has obtained for private sector workers, besides the 12 million doses of the Chinese vaccine it is supplying to the government.
Khairy also did not elaborate if the private sector could obtain coronavirus vaccines like Moderna that were too expensive for the Malaysian government.
The science, technology and innovation minister said that private organisations must get regulatory approval from the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) before commercialising Covid-19 vaccines in Malaysia.
“Private companies who have signed memorandums of understanding with foreign vaccine manufacturers, especially those in China, that’s a commercial decision for them to undertake and of course they are free to do so. But whatever it is they have to get regulatory approval from NPRA.
“Once they submit for regulatory approval and if they are successful, then they can discuss with the government whether or not they would like to supply to the national immunisation programme that the government runs.
“As far as I have made to understand so far, there has not been any submissions to NPRA by these private companies apart from the ones they announced in the national immunisation programme.”
The Indonesian government has permitted a private Covid-19 vaccination programme that allows companies to buy vaccines and inoculate their staff, Reuters reported. However, the vaccines in the private scheme must not be the same as the government rollout.
Consultant paediatrician Dr Musa Mohd Nordin has urged Putrajaya to do likewise, noting that private hospitals and general practitioner clinics can run 30 per cent of the national immunisation programme. He simply called for legislated ceiling prices on vaccination in the private sector.
The government has set an ambitious target of vaccinating 80 per cent of the population, or 26 million adults, in one year by March next year, or by this December at the earliest, despite seemingly relying only on the public health care system. Malaysia has a dual health care system, with almost equal public and private health spending.