Mosti to propose free Covid-19 vaccine for Malaysians

by DASHVEENJIT KAUR/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) will discuss with the Cabinet on the possibility of making Covid-19 vaccine free for all Malaysians.

Its Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar (picture) recommended for the vaccine to be free of charge once it is purchased.

“Mosti has been assigned by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to negotiate directly with vaccine manufacturers so that Malaysia would be able to purchase doses at the best possible price,” he told reporters a press conference after the launch of the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS) on Wednesday.

Khairy Jamaluddin highlighted that priority is safety and efficacy, followed by speed and cost.

“We will negotiate directly with manufacturers to procure the vaccine at the best cost possible,” he added.

At the end of June, Malaysia joined a unified appeal, signed by 105 world leaders, including 18 Nobel laureates, 32 former heads of state and government, political leaders, artistes, international non-governmental organisations and institutions, to declare Covid-19 vaccines a global common good so that the vaccines can be produced and distributed for free.

Khairy Jamaluddin emphasised that Malaysia is not relying solely on China for the vaccine.

“We are also looking at other manufacturers. However, the safety and efficacy of the vaccine is pivotal.

“Additionally, the country has participated in the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which has funded many vaccine research efforts by companies in Western countries,” he said, adding that it is important to make sure the vaccine is safe and effective.

According to Khairy Jamaluddin, the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency under the Health Ministry requires the data for clinical trials to be shared before the buying of the vaccine is approved.

“The data will tell us whether the vaccine is safe and effective,” he added.

The minister said the government was also looking at countries and manufacturers who could provide the vaccine the quickest.

“Once there is a safe and effective vaccine, we want it as soon as possible based on equitable access.

“We don’t like to see other countries enter into advance purchase contracts with pharmaceutical companies and monopolise the purchase of the vaccine,” he added.