Khairy rejects Razaleigh’s claim vaccine deal with Pfizer costs RM3b
KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 9): Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin has denied veteran lawmaker Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s claim that Malaysia’s vaccine deal with Pfizer cost the government RM3 billion, including RM1 billion for transport and storage,
Khairy also rejected Razaleigh’s claim that Putrajaya has used up the entire allocation of RM3 billion to cover just 20% of the population.
"Based on our current negotiations to acquire a portfolio of vaccines, we are still within our estimate of RM3 billion to acquire enough doses to cover 70% of our population.
"The Pfizer deal clearly has not used up the entire allocation as recklessly alleged by the Gua Musang MP," he added in a statement in response to an earlier statement by Razaleigh.
Disputing Razaleigh’s estimate that the cost per dose of the vaccine is RM234 (based on the alleged cost of RM3 billion), the Minister said: “This is simply ludicrous.”
“Although I cannot reveal the exact price for the Pfizer vaccine which is bound by a non-disclosure agreement, I have mentioned previously in my reply to [Sungai Pelek Assemblyman] YB Ronnie Liu that the cost is significantly less than RM100 per dose, which includes delivery to multiple points of vaccination.
“As for Malaysia’s ultra-cold capabilities, also previously mentioned in my reply to YB Ronnie Liu, we already have -80 degree Celsius freezers all over the country.
“For instance, our public universities and public research institutions have more than 125 ultra-cold freezers. If these freezers cannot be redeployed, we will make arrangements for the procurement of additional ultra-cold freezers,” he added.
Khairy, in his statement, said the development of Covid-19 vaccines has been able to be fast-tracked due, among others, to advancements in science and technology.
He explained that one of the factors that contributed to the rapid development of Covid-19 vaccines was that science and technology have evolved quite significantly over the past decade with new platforms like the messenger Ribonucleic acid (mRNA) and adenoviral vector-based vaccines, which took place before the pandemic and were quickly adapted to develop a vaccine for Covid-19.
"Global collaboration has also helped. The speedy release of the SARs-CoV-2 genome in January 2020 helped accelerate the development of vaccines. Finally, it is also because of the unprecedented amount of money that has been invested to develop a vaccine that can help end the global pandemic," he said.
Razaleigh, in his statement, had also said there are experts who feel that governments should consider alternatives to the vaccine to end the pandemic. The statement refers to Dr Mike Yeadon, a former VP of Pfizer, who claims that vaccines are not needed as people are acquiring natural herd immunity.
Addressing this, Khairy argued that attempting to acquire natural herd immunity will result in a lot of people getting sick, pushing the national healthcare system beyond its limit.
"Even though our healthcare capacity is sufficient to handle the present number of positive cases, we must do everything possible to protect people from getting sick and needlessly losing lives. Allowing people to get sick and possibly die is extremely irresponsible," he said.
Khairy added that the view held by Yeadon has been marked as inaccurate under Health Feedback, which is a member of the WHO-led project Vaccine Safety Net.
To alleviate the concerns of the public, Khairy assured that all the vaccines procured by the government will go through scrutiny to ensure that they are safe, efficacious, and stable.
He explained that all vaccines will need to be approved and registered by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) before vaccinations start in Malaysia, "and we have some of the most rigorous standards in the world".
"Our present focus is the safety, efficacy, and stability of their Covid-19 vaccine. That is why we will vigorously defend the independence of the NPRA to assess Pfizer’s clinical data as they make it available before we use the vaccine in Malaysia," Khairy added.