KUALA LUMPUR, August 24 — Selangor’s state Covid-19 vaccination programme got off to a slow start as the state government could not access the Sinovac vaccines procured from the same manufacturer supplying the federal rollout, Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud said today.
The Selangor state executive councillor for public health said the state only started receiving delivery of its purchased 2.5 million Sinovac doses in June, despite having made payments for the vaccine in February this year. The National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) began receiving Sinovac supply in March, three months before Selangor’s state delivery.
“We could have started much earlier actually. The state government’s plan was to complement the national programme. We knew there was going to be Phase One and Phase Two, and that by the time we got to the third phase, it will be very late,” Dr Siti Mariah told the Selangor state legislative assembly sitting today.
Former federal vaccine minister Khairy Jamaluddin previously said that Pharmaniaga Bhd — the local distributor and fill-and-finish manufacturer of Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine — was supposed to deliver PICK’s order first before distributing the shots to any other party, including state governments.
However, he said parts of the state government’s order from Pharmaniaga — a federal government-linked company (GLC) — were allowed to be delivered to enable Selangor to run its own pilot Covid-19 vaccination programme.
“That is why we allow certain portions to be given to Selangor first. It is okay. That initiative will help PICK too. But the rest of the supply will only be given to the state after the federal government receives its full supply from Pharmaniaga,” Khairy said back in June.
Data shared by Dr Siti Mariah in the state legislative assembly showed that Selangor was able to increase its Sinovac supply by five-fold to 478,800 doses in June from 88,120 doses in May, once state access to the orders was fully granted.
From February until August 23, Selangor received 4,053,960 Sinovac doses in total, from both PICK and its own purchase through the state’s health care firm Selgate for the state’s Selvax vaccination programme. Over the same period, Selangor received a total 7,813,230 Covid-19 vaccine doses, including 3,499,470 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty vaccine and 259,800 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.
The 7.8 million doses received so far by the state with a 6.5 million population amount to about 1.2 doses per person.
The Klang Valley (Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and Putrajaya) currently leads in terms of total population that has received at least a single dose. As of August 23, 80 per cent of Klang Valley’s total population has received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, while 62.3 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Klang Valley has been the country’s Covid-19 epicentre since July, although the epidemic recently began shifting to other states. Daily new coronavirus cases in Selangor surged from about 3,000 on July 3 to a peak of 8,792 infections on August 6, before a gradual decline to 4,645 new cases today.
Selangor also remains the biggest contributor to the country’s Covid-19 death toll, with the state reporting 1,381 coronavirus-related deaths from August 8 until August 21 (Epid Week 32-33), or nearly 40 per cent of 3,541 nationwide Covid-19 deaths recorded over the period.
“If we had started our state Covid-19 vaccination programme sooner, perhaps a lot more young people could have been vaccinated and we would have lower death rates among the younger population,” Dr Siti Mariah said.