Thursday, February 25, 2021

Govt bound by confidentiality deals on vaccine cost, says Khairy

Deals have been made with three more companies for the supply of Covid-19 vaccine, but exact details on the price cannot be revealed, he says.

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Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin today said the government is bound by confidentiality agreements with pharmaceutical companies in the matter of vaccine pricing, amid concern over the amount Putrajaya is paying for the country’s supply of vaccine.

Speaking at a press conference, he said Malaysia has agreements in place with another three companies from China and Russia for a supply of Covid-19 vaccine which will allow 82.8% of the country or 26.5 million people to be inoculated against the virus.

The three companies are Sinovac (China), CanSinoBIO (China) and Gamaleya (Russia).

“The total cost for the vaccines from these companies as well as from Covax, Pfizer and AstraZeneca is RM2.05 billion,” he said.

He added however that he was unable to state the actual cost as pharmaceutical companies require confidentiality as part of their agreements.

“I cannot go into detail about the price of the vaccine because this would jeopardise the agreements,” he said.

“I will respect the conditions of the agreements because the important thing is to obtain the vaccines.”

He added however that the Covax and Pfizer vaccines were obtained through direct negotiations.

Supplies of these two vaccines are expected to arrive in February.

Khairy also said Malaysia would obtain another 20% from Pfizer in the near future.

He said his ministry is ready to explain the deals to the Public Accounts Committee if the committee signs a non-disclosure agreement.

“I hope to (disclose the details of the deals), but we should respect the agreement to confidentiality that we signed with the vaccine suppliers,” he added.

Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang previously challenged Khairy to reveal how much had been paid to Pfizer for its vaccine.

Khairy in turn had disputed Lim’s claim that Belgium paid 20 times less for the vaccine than Malaysia did.

Lim’s comparison with Belgium was based on a statement by the country’s secretary of state Eva De Bleeker who recently revealed the number of doses and price per dose of each vaccine.

Belgium was said to have paid about RM60 per dose of Pfizer vaccine.

Given Malaysia’s estimated population of 31 million, an allocation of RM3 billion would mean RM138 per person to vaccinate about 70% of the people.

According to the Belgium government, the US paid Pfizer RM80 per dose while the European Union (EU) paid RM60.

Given Malaysia’s estimated population of 31 million, an allocation of RM3 billion would mean RM138 per person to vaccinate about 70% of the people.

The AstraZeneca vaccine costs RM16.25 per dose in the US and RM8.89 in the EU.

When asked today why Malaysia was receiving its first vaccines two months after neighbouring Singapore, Khairy said it was not a big deal.

He said Singapore had signed its agreements earlier as Malaysia was facing financial constraints.

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