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Potential purchase of COVID-19 vaccine by private sector 'on our radar': Malaysian official

Potential purchase of COVID-19 vaccine by private sector 'on our radar': Malaysian official

A health worker administers the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to a staff member at a vaccination center in Serdang, outskirt of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Mar 4, 2021. (Photo: AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

KUALA TERENGGANU: The limited global supply of COVID-19 vaccines has made it necessary for the Malaysian government to monopolise purchases to ensure the success of its national immunisation programme, said Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Ahmad Amzad Hashim on Saturday (Mar 6).

He said although there were requests from the private sector to buy the vaccine through the government, the priority now is for the government to get adequate supply speedily to achieve the target of vaccinating 80 per cent of the population for free.

“We do get the private sector involved in this (immunisation) programme but as implementers in giving free vaccine. They (private sector) are not the one who bought the vaccine.

“This matter is on our radar. For example, there may be (private) agencies wishing to go overseas on business which face a delay in waiting their turn for vaccine but we haven’t got a policy (to allow vaccine purchase by private sector),” he told reporters after launching the TD1303 x Jazro Robotic Academy here on Saturday.

He said this when asked to comment on reports that the private sector was keen to buy COVID-19 vaccines with the help of the government, currently the only channel to get vaccine supply from manufacturers.

READ: Malaysia approves Sinovac, AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for use

READ: IN FOCUS - After grappling with COVID-19 for more than a year, is Malaysia finally turning the corner?

Ahmad Amzad said that as of Friday, more than 2 million Malaysians had registered for the vaccination. Of this, 112,000 were frontliners who had received their jabs.

He assured the public of the safety of the vaccines, saying the approval process was thorough on matters of quality.

“So far 279 million doses of vaccine have been administered to individuals in 107 countries. On average 6 million people were given vaccine jabs daily and the rate of side effects was low,” he added.

Malaysia began its vaccination drive on Feb 24 using a shot developed by US drugmaker Pfizer and German partner BioNTech. It granted conditional approval for the use of vaccines made by UK firm AstraZeneca and China's Sinovac on Mar 2.

The conditional approval means Malaysia will use the vaccines developed by Astrazeneca and Sinovac, but both firms - along with Pfizer - will be required to provide additional data on rolling submissions to ensure the vaccines' effectiveness and safety, said health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah last week.

READ: Malaysian PM Muhyiddin receives COVID-19 jab as vaccine roll-out begins

Health authorities are also evaluating the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Russia's Gamaleya Research Institute, and the local bottling facility for Sinovac's vaccine, Noor Hisham said.

Last month, the government said it had secured 66.7 million vaccine doses, enough to more than cover its population of about 32 million.

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