Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin today responded to queries raised by opposition chief Anwar Ibrahim over the rollout of the national vaccination programme, saying many of the PKR leader’s questions, including on the incomplete registration applications of some 1.4 million people, have already been addressed.
In a statement, Khairy who is in charge of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme said he had responded to the matter of incomplete registrations at a press conference yesterday, at which he had assured that applicants would be reminded through SMS to resubmit their requests with the missing details.
“Regarding the issue of having to register multiple times, as I have said, MySejahtera records when the first registration is made, so applicants actually don’t need to register again and again,” he said.
“This is proven through the new interface released last Saturday which shows the date that users registered the first time.”
Anwar had said yesterday that the registration process for the vaccine could have been better organised and managed.
“Pertinent issues need to be addressed, such as ‘Why aren’t more Malaysians registering for the vaccine?’ and ‘Is it due to the complexities of the MySejahtera app?'”
In a statement posted on social media, he asked what the government was doing about anti-vaxxers and questioned the parameters used in the decision-making process to secure the country’s supply of vaccines.
“For instance, why did we not consider the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, which is marginally cheaper and according to reports much more effective, much earlier?”
He likewise questioned the lack of local universities and medical research institutions in the development of vaccines, saying Malaysia has the capacity to research and develop vaccines as proven through the production of antidotes for the Nipah virus.
Khairy said programmes to raise awareness about the importance of vaccines among anti-vaxxers and the general public had been conducted many times, by himself as well as other agencies like the health ministry, religious affairs department and the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia or Jakim.
As for the matter of vaccine procurement, he said the government remains bound by the non-disclosure agreements signed with the manufacturing companies.
“However, Health Minister Dr Adham Baba, health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and I presented information on the matter as well as further details to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Jan 5.
“Details as well as the agreements were shown to PAC as well. PAC in a statement by its chairman, DAP’s Ipoh Timor MP, has said that it is satisfied with the presentation and procurement procedures,” he said, adding that there are also representatives from PKR in the committee.
Khairy also said the Sputnik V vaccine was already in the country’s portfolio for vaccine procurements and is currently being assessed by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency or NPRA for approval and registration.
Regarding Anwar’s question about the involvement of local researchers in the development of vaccines, he said his ministry had already funded the research and revelopment of local vaccines for Covid-19 through the Mosti Combating Covid-19 Fund or MCCOF for two groups of researchers from Universiti Malaya and Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Acknowledging that Malaysia lacks the full facilities for the development of vaccines, he said this was why the government had, in its negotiations with suppliers, included “value-added elements” to allow Malaysia to grow its capacity for such developments in the future.