Why the U-turn after free vaccine pledge, asks Rafidah

PETALING JAYA: “Iron Lady” Rafidah Aziz has doubled down on her criticism of the decision to allow the sale of 14 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine to states and private entities.

Referring to a report last year by Bernama, Rafidah pointed out that the prime minister had said then that Covid-19 vaccine would be given free to Malaysians. Foreigners, meanwhile, would have to pay.

“This is what the prime minister said to the people in November 2020. To the sceptics, I do read and remember.

“Why the U-turn now to allow any company to sell vaccines?” the former international trade and industry minister said in a Facebook post.

Her comments come hours after vaccination minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the private sector participation has always been part of the government’s plan once a sufficient supply of vaccines has been secured.

This, he said, was to speed up the vaccination rate in the country.

Two days ago, Rafidah demanded the Covid-19 vaccine supply access guarantee special committee (JKJAV) explain the decision to allow the sale of 14 million Sinovac doses to states and private entities.

The people, she said, should not be made to pay for “what should be free”.

She said this in response to the announcement that Pharmaniaga Bhd would sell the vaccine to interested states and private companies from this month till September.

The pharmaceutical giant was given the green light to do so by JKJAV.

Earlier today, Khairy said pharmaceutical companies with access to supplies of vaccines would be able to offer them in the private market next month.

He also said the ceiling price and sales guidelines had been set for the sale of the vaccines to private parties.

“The ceiling price is to ensure that the vaccine is not sold at too high a price,” he said. FMT

Seven states bought up to 6m Sinovac doses, S’gor tops order list

Pharmaniaga Bhd said today nearly half of the 14 million Sinovac vaccine doses it plans to sell from next month have been ordered by various state governments running initiatives parallel to the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP).

Pharmaniaga group managing director Zulkarnain Md Eusope (above) said in an online press briefing that the Selangor government topped the list of states with an order for 2.5 million Sinovac doses.

He said other states that had indicated initial interest are Pahang, Perak, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Sabah and Sarawak, with total orders from all the seven states amounting to about six million doses.

The remaining doses would be sold to the private sector, including hospitals that will begin to offer Sinovac vaccines beginning Aug 1, as announced by the coordinating minister for NIP Khairy Jamaluddin earlier today.

“Again, as I said before, now the race is between the vaccination rates and the virus.

“So, simultaneously the private sector initiative that we run parallel with NCIP will start soon, and then we’ll help Malaysia to win the race,” Zulkarnain said.

Quizzed on the delivery of vaccines, Zulkarnain said a portion of Selangor’s orders has been delivered ahead of time in light of its current record-high numbers of positive Covid-19 cases, while the remaining will be available after Aug 1.

Future business plans

He said Pharmaniaga is also prepared to support the federal government in the event of any delays from other vaccine suppliers, in order to maintain the high vaccination rates that reached a record of over 500,000 doses yesterday.

At the same time, Zulkarnain said Pharmaniaga’s future business plans include looking at other foreign markets with interest to purchase the Sinovac vaccine.

Earlier today, Khairy, who is also science, technology and innovations minister, said the government was allowing Pharmaniaga to sell Sinovac to get more people vaccinated quicker.

He also said the Special Committee for Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) will be regulating the sales, including by setting a ceiling price.

“The JKJAV, co-chaired by (Health Minister) Dr Adham Baba and myself, will meet next week to decide on the guidelines for the private sales of vaccines, including (setting) the ceiling price, so that these vaccines are not sold at too high a price in Malaysia,” Khairy added.  MKINI