As of May 24, Malaysia is among the worst in Southeast Asia in terms of the total number of vaccine doses administered to its population. It had vaccinated only 2.63 million people with at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccines – behind Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and even Cambodia. It is only ahead of Laos, Brunei, Vietnam and Myanmar.
Even then, Laos has less than 100 Coronavirus cases daily, while 10.6% of the Brunei population had received at least one dose of vaccines (obviously better than Malaysia). In fact, Laos has reported zero community case today. Vietnam, meanwhile, had less than 50 daily cases for as long as one can remember, until early May when a new wave exploded due to variants from India and the UK.
The biggest reason Malaysia under the backdoor government Muhyiddin is behind countries like Indonesia and Cambodia is due to corruption. From the beginning, the regime has been treating the vaccination program as one mega infrastructure project where they can milk for kickbacks. The longer they could drag or prolong the vaccination, the more money they could squeeze.
If the Muhyiddin administration was serious and sincere about protecting the lives of the people in the first place, it would not have vaccinated less than 10% of 33 million of the population since the vaccination started in February until today. How could Malaysia administer only 2.63 million doses as compared to Indonesia’s 24.83 million (May 24)?
From face masks to vaccines, everything must be “parked” under Pharmaniaga, who is not only the sole concessionaire holder, but also acts as a middleman of drugs and medical supply to public hospitals in the country. There’s nothing wrong with such arrangement had the company, one of government-linked companies (GLCs), being efficient in the distribution of such critical medical commodities.
But it screams monopoly, inefficiency, mismanagement, and even corruption when Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin himself has been complaining and bitching about supply shortages of Covid vaccines. It’s not rocket science to get vaccine shipments from foreign manufacturers and thereafter stored, transported, and handled at pre-determined refrigerated conditions.
So, why must Pharmaniaga make life difficult when it insisted on rebottling, repackaging and redistributing vaccines like Chinese-made Sinovac? In January, Mr Khairy said the government was paying less for the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac as the bottling process will be carried out in Malaysia. Hilariously, he refused to reveal how much the government could save in the process.
If Pharmaniaga indeed has the expertise to rebottle and repackage Sinovac vaccine without contaminating or corrupting it, why did the genius Khairy announce days ago (May 27) that the country is expecting the arrival of 12 million doses of the same vaccine from China? On 28 Feb, the country received 200 litres of CoronaVac vaccine, which can be processed into 300,000 doses.
As of today, Pharmaniaga, the country’s biggest pharmaceutical company, has in its possession 1,800 litres of China’s Sinovac vaccine, which can produce up to 2.6 million doses. So, what happens to the almost 3 million doses of Chinese vaccine? Interestingly, Health Minister Dr Adham Baba said on May 11 that Pharmaniaga delivered its first batch of Sinovac – a total of 290,480 vials.
Between Feb and May, how many people had lost their lives because the incompetent Pharmaniaga struggled to rebottle 290,480 doses of Sinovac vaccines? If the company could only deliver a pathetic 290,480 doses in more than 2 months (presumably from the initial 200 litres procured), it would probably take ages to process the remaining litres of Sinovac (assuming it still exists in good condition).
In reality, the cost is definitely higher because it’s impossible for Pharmaniaga to beat China – the world’s largest factory – in terms of speed and cost. But the Malaysian pharmaceutical had to do it because that’s the only way it could profit more. The government prefers to make more money instead of taking the easy route – import and directly distribute it nationwide.
Of course, it’s not free that stadiums or exhibition centres are being transformed as mega vaccination centres. Cronies were awarded multi-million dollar contracts to manage such events. But there’s no guarantee a mega vaccination centre is a paradise. As corrupt cronies tried to maximize profits, chaos and confusion exploded due to the outsourcing of the event management to incompetent parties.
So why didn’t the government include existing facilities or infrastructures at local level, such as private or government clinics or even schools to efficiently distribute the workload? After all, previous chaos at mega-sized vaccination centres did create overcrowding, which could lead to the spread of Coronavirus because people were made to wait for hours to get their jabs.
But at the very least, the government should put two key factors into consideration – easy and fast access to vaccination centres. Forcing people to cross districts is definitely not an option for older village folks, whom mostly are without a smartphone. Why must make life difficult by forcing everyone to register online when one can just bring along his/her IC (identification card) and walk into a clinic for vaccination?
Why must the Vaccine Minister Khairy spent RM70 million on a half-baked website when the conventional method, which may involve paper works, could do a better job to inoculate more people? Even in the capital city like Kuala Lumpur, it would be easier and faster for people to walk or drive to the nearest clinic in their neighbourhood to get their dose of vaccines.
After being condemned, Khairy stunningly offered his dose of excuse today. He argued that only 2,467 out of 7,000 GP (general practitioner) clinics had registered to take part in the vaccination drive. But even if that’s true, those clinics could vaccinate 123,350 people per day based on 50 injections that each clinic could easily administer every day.
The fact that GP clinics could only start administering vaccines by June 15 (only months of heavy criticisms from the general public and experts) goes to show that there had been very poor planning since last year. Another method that has been adopted by the United States is the drive-thru vaccination model, a concept started since last year in the U.S.
Valuable time has been wasted and precious lives have been lost because the Muhyiddin government puts priority on how to greedily benefit financially from the vaccination program, instead of saving lives. Corrupt ministers wanted to control and monopolize the vaccines to pump up the demand. They wanted to create a market where people are willing to pay top dollars for vaccines.