KOTA KINABALU, Aug 11 — As it looks to ramp up its inoculation drive, the Sabah government has decided to purchase its own Covid-19 vaccines to avoid any supply disruptions in the upcoming months.
Sabah Covid-19 spokesman Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said that the state government made the decision based on information from sources indicating that there might be an interruption in the supply of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine to purchaser countries, including Malaysia.
“The state government has decided to start buying its own vaccines in order to pre-empt the possible shortfall that can prevent us from achieving herd immunity in the targeted time,” he said.
Masidi said that the state was pleased with the 1.5 million doses of vaccine sent to Sabah for use this month, which was received last week as planned by the National Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force and state health authorities.
He stressed that the move to purchase additional vaccines was a pre-emptive one.
He also said the state will ask its government-linked companies (GLC) to use part of their profits to get their staff and workers vaccinated and donate the remaining supply to members of the public who are eligible.
“This initiative should expedite the process of inoculating most of the people,” he said, adding that the amount spent on the purchase of vaccines will be docked from the annual dividends paid to the government.
Masidi, who is also local government and housing minister, said that the initiative would be promoted among the large plantation corporations that will benefit from employing their workers as soon as possible without waiting for the government’s free vaccines.
“We are aware that a significant amount of their workforce — 80 per cent — are foreign workers, so taking this on as a charity or Corporate Social Responsibility programme will help the state. The state government will consider allowing these companies who can vaccinate all their employees and families to operate at 100 per cent workforce capacity,” he said.
He said he hopes state-owned Qhazanah Sabah Sdn Bhd (Warisan Harta SB), which is the official state representative for Sinovac distributor Pharmaniaga Bhd, can assist Sabah companies that are interested in purchasing their own vaccines.
Masidi said that the spike in Covid 19 cases over the last week has spurred the government to pivot on its preventive strategies, and the state will no longer rely on lockdowns and enhanced movement control orders to curb the spread of the virus.
“The virus’ ‘playing field’ has expanded and now it is more difficult to rein in. Our strategy now is to vaccinate every adult as soon as possible so that the virus will run out of victims or have fewer victims to infect.
On the state’s plan for fully vaccinated individuals, Masidi said the State Management Committee is still going through the many implications of the prime minister’s announcement as well as the adjustments needed in view of the current high number of infections in the state.
“The overriding consideration is to manage the high caseloads of Covid-19, while at the same time, making reasonable allowance for the economic sector to resume operations, albeit within a safe environment,” he said.
“We will have to make decisions that will allow a balance of saving lives and livelihoods in a long-term new norm,” he said.
Sabah registered 1,514 new cases today, the highest by far in a week of record numbers.
The state has also ramped up its vaccination rate, giving out more than 40,000 jabs per day, just a little short of its 50,000 target.
As of August 9, 18.1 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated, while 42 per cent have received one dose.
Masidi also said that the government will look into the vastly differing inoculation rates in the 25 districts in order to achieve better rates.