KJ explains why S’pore, Indonesia got vaccines before us
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said while Malaysia was not among the first to secure Covid-19 vaccines, that does not mean that procurement was slow.
In a statement today, Khairy said Japan will be securing vaccines in end-February – same as Malaysia – although Japan signed a deal in July last year, four months earlier than Malaysia. South Korea, which signed a deal in December 2020, will only get its vaccines in the third quarter of 2021.
Neighbouring Singapore and Indonesia, said Khairy, had unique circumstances which allowed them to roll out Covid-19 vaccinations before Malaysia.
In the case of Singapore, Khairy explained that the island republic was able to “place bets” on vaccine candidates earlier because of greater resources.
As for Indonesia, which is rolling out the Sinovac vaccine from China, Khairy explained that the republic had conducted clinical trials for the vaccine.
As such, Indonesia had clinical data from these trials and it was therefore understandable that Sinovac would have given priority to countries which ran clinical trials.
Khairy said Malaysia was not a site for clinical trials for Sinovac because at the time the trials were conducted, the number of positive Covid-19 cases was low.
“So was the rate of infectivity. Hence, Sinovac declined to include Malaysia in their Phase III trial programme.
“Clinical trials need high infectivity rates to be successful,” he said.
In view of this, he argued that Malaysia was not “slow” in receiving the vaccines.
“Yes, we are not among the first. Many developed countries have received their vaccines. This is because they have paid a lot to corner the market even before the availability of safety and efficacy data.
“But we are certainly not laggards… We made informed procurement decisions based on clinical data assessment, without having to pay huge premiums and downpayments.
“And crucially, we can learn from the rollout in other countries to ensure an effective implementation of our vaccination campaign,” Khairy added.