Black market vaccines will face the law

All vaccines must be registered and approved by the NPRA


SCIENCE, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar (picture) warned against any unauthorised sales and inoculation of Covid-19 vaccines, saying the government will take swift action on the matter.

“Any black market vaccines, sales or inoculation will be punishable by law. We are continuing to monitor and will ensure if we receive any reports, we will act swiftly,” Khairy said in a press conference at the Parliament yesterday.

The minister said all vaccines must be registered and approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).

He said the government is still in the process of negotiating with Russia’s Gamaleya National Centre, China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd and CanSino Biologics Inc to procure their vaccines, which are targeted to conclude by the next one or two weeks.

According to Khairy, the vaccine by US-based Pfizer Inc is expected to arrive by the end of February, while UK’s AstraZeneca plc is in the first quarter.

He added that the government has identified 55 locations to store Pfizer’s vaccines, mostly in urban areas due to the requirement of ultra-low temperature freezers.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, which can be stored in a normal freezer, is likely to be deployed in rural areas.

Khairy said the government has approved to procure 55 units of “cold boxes” at RM16.6 million to keep the Pfizer vaccine, including other related medical supplies.

He said vaccination will be voluntary where people can opt to sign up and give their consent for the injection through the MySejahtera application.

He further said the government is looking to roll out the vaccine to Malaysians aged 18 years old and above.

He also said the vaccination programme will start with a risk assessment to determine high-risk groups such as frontline workers, co-morbidity and senior citizens, followed by vaccinations for the general population.

After the injections, he said there will be surveillance for a few years, also known as Phase Four of the vaccination programme, to monitor any side effects of the vaccines.

He said the national vaccination plan is set to be endorsed by the Cabinet next week.

According to the Health Ministry’s recent online survey on the acceptance of Covid-19 vaccines, Khairy said about 67% of the respondents are keen to take the jabs.

He added that the vaccination also includes a portion of foreign workers, expatriates and other non-Malaysian residents.

However, Khairy said the government will discuss on the number of foreign workers that will be involved and whether it will be given for free.

“We are talking about documented and undocumented workers. We will try to target as many as possible. The principle is we need to vaccinate foreign workers to make sure they are safe and we are safe.

“We are still at risk if we don’t vaccinate the foreign workers because we may not reach the threshold of herd immunity,” he explained.

To date, Malaysia is sourcing Covid-19 vaccines from five producers, including China and Russia, to cover over 80% of the country’s population with a total estimated cost of US$504.4 million (RM2.05 billion).

Read our earlier report

Covid-19 vaccination to be voluntary: KJ