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KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 — Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has said one of the primary reasons why the Covid-19 vaccine supply in Malaysia remains low is due to wealthier nations cornering the market.
He said some rich countries have bought enough vaccines for their citizens three to five times over, and that Malaysia is among other middle-income countries experiencing the same predicament.
“Many pharmaceutical companies give preference to rich countries for obvious reasons. That is also why Malaysia has had to balance our Covid-19 vaccine portfolio to include Pfizer, AstraZeneca but also those from non-Western countries like China’s Sinovac,” Khairy said in a statement.
The minister, who is also in charge of the national Covid-19 immunisation programme, was addressing public concerns as to why the rate of vaccination appears to be slow, with people who registered in February asking when their inoculation appointments will be set.
“As announced previously, the vaccination programme will run until the end of the year and will be implemented in phases.
“We are now concluding Phase One involving medical and non-medical frontliners. Next week we commence phase two involving people above 60 and those with chronic illnesses,” he said.
Khairy added that based on the delivery schedules provided by Malaysia’s vaccine suppliers, a more steady and ample supply of vaccines will commence in June.
“This is when I project mass vaccinations will be in full swing. For now, demand outstrips supply. Most importantly, we will have enough supplies coming to ensure we hit our 80 per cent population target before the end of the year.
“This is according to the current portfolio and plan we announced in February,” he said.
Khairy allayed public concerns by saying that he is managing expectations with the reality of vaccine availability, as well as handling the public’s anxiety about getting their Covid-19 vaccination.
“I will continue to push for more vaccine supplies to arrive quicker. In the meantime please maintain our standard operating procedures, and in the coming months you will get a notification in the MySejahtera app or via SMS informing you of your vaccination appointment. Thank you for your patience,” he said.