KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 – Malaysia is still awaiting the bulk of its shipment of Covid-19 vaccines from the COVAX facility under Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, despite having paid RM94 million (USD22.66 million) in upfront payment and risk-sharing guarantee.
The Auditor-General’s 2021 report (Series 2), tabled in Parliament on February 16, revealed that the country has only received 1,387,200 doses out of a total of 6,473,200 Covid vaccine doses agreed under Gavi, as of August 2022.
A Cabinet meeting on October 14, 2020, had agreed to participate in an optional purchase agreement with Gavi after considering Malaysia’s ability to have vaccine choices and that Malaysia had no obligation to make a full purchase. While upfront payments will not be returned, countries can trade with other participating countries under the COVAX Exchange.
Given COVAX’s poor delivery of the existing doses, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has decided not to accept Gavi’s latest invitation for any additional vaccine purchases.
According to MOH’s audit feedback in September 2022, the agreement with Gavi did not provide a time frame or delivery schedule nor the type of vaccine to be received.
“The National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) was launched on February 24, 2021, and the MOH has targeted as much as 80 per cent of the adult population to receive two doses of the vaccine as set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“However, COVAX’s failure to guarantee the duration and duration of vaccine delivery is due to limited production capacity due to high demand, where no one manufacturer can provide enough vaccine to a country.
“The demand for the Covid-19 vaccine as a primary dose and also a booster dose has dropped sharply and this has caused the supply of stocks in logistics companies, vaccine storage centres (PSV) and vaccination centres (PPV) to be excessive and part of the vaccine stock in storage has expired,” the ministry said.
The audit concluded a review of the agreement between the MOH and Gavi is needed if new Covid-19 vaccines are needed to avoid waste.
The COVAX Facility, which is co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), had aimed to share Covid-19 vaccines equitably across the world, particularly with low- and middle-income countries. Malaysia, a high middle-income country, ended up purchasing most of its vaccines directly from manufacturers.