KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 — Malaysia is expected to receive 25 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine between this month and September, Khairy Jamaluddin said.
Malaysia recorded among the fastest vaccination rates globally since the past week, administering more than 400,000 daily jabs in the past three consecutive days since July 12.
The coordinating minister of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) told Australian media that Malaysia was able to expedite vaccination after renegotiating two months ago the supply and delivery of vaccines procured, 70 per cent of which are Pfizer.
“Most of our portfolio is Pfizer and then we spread our bets,” Khairy told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. “We decided early on that it would be dangerous to put our eggs in one or two baskets.
The Malaysian government has also purchased the AstraZeneca-Oxford and China’s Sinovac and single-shot CanSino vaccines, besides ordering other shots from the global COVAX vaccine-sharing programme.
“I think we are at the stage now where we really need to vaccinate ourselves out of the situation that we have found ourselves in,” said Khairy.
According to Our World In Data, on July 13, Malaysia administered 1.13 doses per 100 people based on a rolling seven-day average, more than double Australia’s rate. Malaysia’s vaccination rate also greatly exceeded South Korea’s 0.24 rate. The three countries started their Covid-19 vaccine rollouts at roughly the same time late February.
As of July 13, Malaysia has vaccinated slightly more than a quarter of its total population with at least one dose, just behind Australia’s 27 per cent and South Korea’s 31 per cent. Vaccination rates in the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) have slowed after both countries inoculated more than half their populations at 68 per cent and 55 per cent respectively.
The European Union (EU) has inoculated about 55 per cent of its population with at least one dose as of July 13, while Asia has only vaccinated slightly over a quarter of its people. The UK, EU, and the US were able to roll out coronavirus vaccines quickly with ample supply after making early orders.
Malaysia is struggling with a surging Covid-19 epidemic that is overwhelming the health care system in Klang Valley, the country’s most developed region, despite more than six weeks of lockdown since June 1. More than 22,000 new Covid-19 cases and nearly 250 coronavirus-related fatalities were reported nationwide in the past two days.
“I think no response has been perfect anywhere in the world,” Khairy told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
“Countries which were successful at suppressing and containing cases have seen their bubble burst. And I think if you look at countries which are doing well, now, you can arguably say that they were doing much, much worse before and they’ve been saved by early arrivals of vaccines.
“Of course, we could have done certain things better. And also, after a while, it’s very difficult to get the public to adhere to the [restrictions] simply because of fatigue. And I’m not blaming the public here. Because to observe these very, very unnatural limitations and restrictions on your behaviour or your movements [is difficult]. Eventually, there will be a time where people just let their guard down.”
Khairy also reportedly acknowledged the erosion of public trust from ministers breaching Movement Control Orders (MCOs), saying: “leadership by example is very important”.
“I think on that score, we have made some errors there.”
Police fined Federal Territories Minister Annuar Musa RM2,000 for breaching Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) by visiting former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s residence in Kuala Lumpur, even as members of the public have been fined thousands of ringgit for similar SOP violations. A fine of RM2,001 and above would cost Annuar his parliamentary seat in Ketereh, Kelantan.
Yesterday, the Cabinet — including Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy, who is from Umno — issued a joint statement expressing support for embattled Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, amid calls from both Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and the public for Muhyiddin to step down.
“Members of the Cabinet wish to state that each government decision is made collectively by the Cabinet after taking into account the views of all quarters.”