PAC: Sinovac Price Cap ‘Late’, Didn’t Benefit Public At Large

PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh says demand for Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine peaked in August and September last year during the Delta surge, not when the vaccine price caps were imposed in January earlier this year.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 – The “delayed” implementation of retail ceiling prices for Sinovac and Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccines saw less people benefitting from the vaccine price caps, according to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Wong Kah Woh.

The government introduced wholesale and retail ceiling prices for both Sinovac and Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccines on January 15 earlier this year, nearly five months after recommendations were made by the PAC to cap prices of the two vaccines sold in the private market.

Wong said demand for the two inactivated Covid-19 vaccines had peaked in August and September last year, during which the two vaccines were sold at RM150 per dose, with GP clinics selling two doses for RM350 to RM380 including service fee and other charges.

“For me, the complaints were made when demand for the vaccines in the private market was at its peak, which was in August and September last year, when there were many (Delta) cases then and everyone was rushing for the vaccine and some of them, they just have to go pay and get their Sinovac vaccine done,” Wong told Health Ministry’s deputy secretary general (management) Harjeet Singh Hardev Singh, according to a hansard of a meeting between the PAC and senior officials from the Ministry of Finance (MOF), the MOH, and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) on March 8, 2022.

“So when MOH was late at setting the ceiling price on January 15, 2022, I don’t see there is a rush for people to go and get the vaccine now already – I think this is beyond doubt. 

“So, because this price fix was late, it didn’t bring any interest or benefit to the general public at large. So, that is my comment,” Wong said. Wong subsequently requested data on the number of Sinovac and Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccines sold before and after the price caps were introduced.

Data provided by MOH show a total 2,208,320 Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines sold between August 1, 2021, until January 15, 2022, when the price caps were introduced. From January 15 until March 8, 2022, only 48,120 Sinovac coronavirus vaccines were sold – just 2 per cent of the amount sold before the government imposed price ceilings on the vaccine.

The same trend can be seen in the sale of Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccine over the two periods – 41,100 doses sold pre-price ceiling versus only 210 doses sold post-price cap, the latter accounting for about 0.5 per cent the amount sold before January 15, 2022.

The government set retail ceiling prices for Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine at RM77 per dose, and Sinopharm’s coronavirus vaccine at RM61 per dose. The wholesale price ceiling for Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine is set at RM62 per dose and RM49 per dose for Sinopharm’s coronavirus vaccine.

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