Sunday, June 20, 2021

Purchase of own vaccines is fine but get NPRA approval first, says Muhyiddin

He says vaccine purchases cannot be done discreetly or doses 'smuggled in'.

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Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says the government has no objection if certain quarters want to purchase their own Covid-19 vaccines, but they must first obtain approval from the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).

“If for instance, agencies such as Petronas or others (want to purchase vaccines), we cannot stop that. (However), the condition is that they are safe after being tested and they must be licensed… the purchase cannot be done discreetly or smuggled in,” he said in a special discussion on the challenges of Covid-19 with the prime minister last night.

Muhyiddin said the government was working towards allowing the private sector including hospitals to administer vaccines to expedite the vaccination process to the masses.

“There will be no charges for the process (vaccinations carried out by private facilities) as it is borne by the government. Maybe we will ask the hospitals involved to charge, say RM14 per shot, (although) the vaccine is free of charge,” he said.

He also expressed confidence that Malaysia’s herd immunity target would be achieved by the end of the year, following schedule guarantees given for the arrival of booked vaccines.

“I was informed by the (relevant) minister that (vaccine) supplies have started coming in, and in fact, I was told they are arriving ahead of schedule. Prior to this, if the (arrival) schedule was for next year, (herd immunity) was targeted only for 2022, but now I’ve been given assurance that all vaccine supplies will arrive by year-end.

“This means we can achieve herd immunity or 80% vaccination completion by the end of this year,” Muhyiddin said.

The prime minister said more than 600 vaccination centres (PPVs) have been opened to facilitate the vaccination exercise, including one mega vaccination centre at the World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur that can accommodate 8,000 people.

With this many PPVs now available, he said the government was targeting 150,000 people to be vaccinated daily.

Muhyiddin also said that Malaysia would follow the guidelines set by vaccine manufacturers in relation to the interval between the vaccine’s first and second doses.

“I was advised by the health ministry that we follow the methods given by the vaccine manufacturers. For example, Pfizer set the second dose to be administered after 21 days, and we will follow as they have experts who have studied why it has to be done only after 21 days, (and) we have no issues with that.

“For me, whatever the situation, every single individual has the right to receive the vaccine, if Johnson & Johnson’s (vaccine) is a single dose, then we will follow. If it (vaccine) is double-dose, then we will give the two doses. We will comply with what is set,” Muhyiddin said.

Singapore, effective May 19, was reported to have extended its vaccine dose interval, previously three to four weeks, to six to eight weeks.

This strategy prioritises the first dose, similarly implemented by countries such as the UK and Germany, thereby protecting more people by allowing more first doses to be administered in a shorter time.

Muhyiddin also advised those who are fully vaccinated to continue adhering to SOPs, saying infection could still occur.

“Do not violate the SOPs. I myself have completed the two doses, so far I have tested negative for all my (Covid-19) tests, but I can’t be smug about it as infections are still happening out there. We won’t feel safe in Malaysia if the situation globally is still unsafe,” he added.

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