On February 27, 2021, Malaysia took first delivery of an “envirotainer” – a temperature-controlled container – with 200 litres of the Sinvoc Covid-19 vaccine in the presence of many cabinet ministers and the Ambassador of China. These 200 litres of vaccine were to be bottled by Pharmaniaga and can produce 300,000 doses.
Probably because these Sinovac vaccines were not able to be rolled out quickly, Malaysia then proceeded to take two shipments of 100,000 doses of Sinovac’s finished product vaccine on March 14 and 22, 2021, and these were deployed nearly immediately, with Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin receiving his dose on March 18, 2021. “This is not included in the 12 million doses that we will be purchasing through Pharmaniaga, ” he said at a press conference on March 22, 2021.
Since then, there has been no news of the first batch of 300,000 doses being deployed. Pharmaniaga announced on January 13 that it had signed an agreement with Sinovac to bottle and distribute 14 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. This would be the first batch of many to come under that agreement.
However, since then, there has been no finished product to be used in our vaccination programme. What happened to the urgency to vaccinate the population to achieve herd immunity?
Where’s the urgency to vaccinate scores of economic frontliners and teachers? The lack of sense of urgency in pushing Pharmaniaga to package the vaccine showcases the incompetence of the government.
If Pharmaniaga is unable to perform in the bottling and distribution of the final product, Khairy and the government needs to address this massive shortcoming urgently.
We are about 4four months away from when the vaccines were purchased and are being slowed down by one corporate company. This is totally unacceptable.
I strongly urge the government to start switching purchasing bulk shipments to purchasing finished products directly, such as we have done for Pfizer. We have to remember that the aim of achieving herd immunity is a race against time and we have no space for such blunders.
Rajiv Rishyakaran is the Assemblyman for Bukit Gasing.
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