MMA: Health minister must explain why Malaysia is last in queue for Covid-19 vaccine

Malaysia
Malaysian Medical Association president Dr N. Ganabaskaran speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur February 21, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Malaysian Medical Association president Dr N. Ganabaskaran speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur February 21, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 — The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) today said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba must explain why Malaysia did not join the Covax Vaccination Plan co-led by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

MMA president Dr N. Ganabaskaran said the association believes even if Malaysia has its own bilateral negotiations for a vaccine, signing up for the Covax Vaccine Plan can be an added option that will guarantee access to vaccines for Covid-19.

“We understand there may be safety concerns on vaccine development being fast-tracked and we are equally concerned. 

“But any potential vaccine will be thoroughly evaluated through stringent checks by MOH for efficacy and safety before they are approved and declared safe for the population.

“Even if MOH needs more time, beyond the Covax vaccination plan deadline to decide, the rakyat must know. 

“The health minister must respond now or he may have to answer to the rakyat later on why Malaysia is last in the queue for the vaccines,” he said in a statement today.

Currently, 172 countries have signed up for the plan with the deadline set for today.

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On Sept 9, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin promised that Malaysia will not miss the vaccine for Covid-19 even though the country does not produce it.

He said Malaysia is in talks with several countries that are developing the vaccine and said that Malaysia is willing to cooperate in ensuring it will have enough for its citizen

On Sept 3, health news portal Code Blue reported that Malaysia has not committed to joining a global Covid-19 vaccine allocation plan, co-led by the WHO. 

The portal quoted Dr Adham as saying Malaysia is waiting for more information on the international plan whose coordinators have set a September 18 deadline for participating countries to make binding commitments.

Seth Berkley, head of the GAVI international vaccine alliance based in Switzerland and the United States, told Reuters that the plan known as Covax — which aims to help purchase and fairly distribute coronavirus vaccines — currently has commitments from Japan, Germany, and Norway, among 76 upper middle income and high income nations, to procure Covid-19 vaccines through the facility for their populations.

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