KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is in talks with China over a potential Memorandum of Understanding to ensure access to the COVID-19 vaccine when it is safe to use, said Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin on Wednesday (Aug 5).
Delivering his wrap up speech in parliament, the minister noted that China is among the countries that are quite advanced in the development of vaccines.
“I have had a video conference with my counterpart in China to discuss the possibility of signing an MOU for Malaysia to have access to the vaccine immediately.
“That is, if it is found to be safe and effective by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) under the Ministry of Health,” he said.
He added that Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein will also be speaking with his Chinese counterpart on Wednesday, and the MOU as well as the vaccine will be on the agenda.
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Mr Khairy noted that the vaccine for COVID-19 is now sought after by the world, and this has resulted in what he called vaccine diplomacy.
“The world is now hunting for a COVID-19 vaccine for us to return to the old normal because if we do not get a vaccine we will have to remain in the new normal. As a result, in the world there is now vaccine diplomacy where advanced countries are buying vaccines being developed by pharmaceuticals in the West.
“For developing countries, this is an uncomfortable situation when countries like the United States and United Kingdom as well as European countries have already made advance purchases of the vaccines,” he said.
He added that the implication of these advance purchases by developed countries is that small and developing countries will be pushed to the end of the queue.
“Malaysia does not want to see this. We feel it should be a global public good that can be accessed by everyone at a reasonable and affordable rate.
“So a collaboration between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation has been formed to find a (form of) strategic cooperation with countries manufacturing vaccines,” he said.
In a press conference on Jul 14, Mr Khairy said that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has agreed to allow government-linked companies Duo Pharma and Pharmaniaga to carry out the “fill and finish” process in Malaysia.
“Basically when we purchase the vaccines from manufacturers, it comes in bulk. The process of fill and finish is to fill it up into the 10ml or 50ml vials that you see in hospitals.
“By doing this in Malaysia, we will not only be saving cost but hastening the process of the distribution of the vaccine to the people of Malaysia,” he said.