KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 — Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin today encouraged the private sector to procure Covid-19 vaccines approved by local pharmaceutical regulators, paving the way for a potential parallel vaccine rollout by private health care providers.
Khairy was responding to a statement on Facebook by former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who asked the government to state clearly if private clinics and hospitals are able to purchase their own supply of Covid-19 vaccines, as currently there is mixed information on the involvement of private health care providers in the inoculation drive.
Najib pointed out that on March 6, Science, Technology, and Innovation Deputy Minister Ahmad Amzad Hashim said that although there were requests from the private sector to purchase Covid-19 vaccines through the government, the priority for the government is still to get adequate supply of vaccines for 80 per cent of the population.
“With regards to the purchase of vaccines by the private sector, as I have mentioned yesterday, most of the vaccine manufacturers only carry out negotiations with governments,” Khairy responded to Najib in a comment on his Facebook post.
“If Dato’ Sri still doesn’t want to believe, I cannot do anything, I leave it up to Dato’ Sri.
“But if there are private parties who are able to carry out negotiations with vaccine manufacturers, especially those that have received approval from the NPRA (National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency) (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Sinovac), please do so. I really welcome it,” added the science, technology and innovation minister.
Previously, Malaysian-based pharmaceutical company Pharmaniaga Bhd announced that it planned to sell some of its Sinovac vaccine doses to the private sector. Pharmaniaga is undertaking the fill-and-finish processing of Sinovac’s vaccine.
Solution Biologics, the distributor of Chinese CanSino’s vaccine, has also expressed plans to supply private health care providers with the vaccine, on top of selling 3.5 million doses to the Malaysian government.
Private hospitals have previously urged the government to allow a parallel private Covid-19 vaccine rollout, with doses independently procured by private facilities, in order to expedite Malaysia’s vaccination coverage. As such, private health care providers have urged NPRA to quickly approve other Covid-19 vaccines authorised in other countries, such as Moderna.
Khairy highlighted today that Malaysia targets to achieve herd immunity by February 2022, as mentioned in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) guideline.
He said that during the second and third phase of PICK, since the target number of daily doses administered will have to be raised up to 160,000, the Ministry of Health will increase the number of vaccinators to 7,000.
“With 7,000, we are able to achieve a number of more than 160,000. But we don’t want to over-promise as we are aware that vaccine supply will be sent over in stages,” Khairy told Najib.
As Najib has raised multiple issues on the Covid-19 vaccine rollout several times on his Facebook page, Khairy invited Najib to a briefing on PICK, along with all other Members of Parliament.
“I hope Dato’ Sri comes for the briefing. Dato’ Sri can ask directly and I am ready to answer. After that, Dato’ Sri can share the truth to Dato’ Sri’s Facebook readers.”