TANGKAK, Dec 13 — The government has plans to increase its purchase of the Covid-19 vaccine to cover the immunisation needs of about 60-70 per cent of Malaysians compared to 30 per cent currently. 

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said this was because some nations had purchased doses exceeding their population.

“As for Malaysia, we have already got 30 per cent. I have instructed Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba along with Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar (Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation) to negotiate and increase it from 30 per cent to 60 or 70 per cent.

“So far, this has been the advice of Health Ministry… if it can be increased to that number, then more people will be protected from the Covid-19 virus,” he said in his speech at the Gambir state constituency Deepavali 2020 celebrations here today. 

Muhyiddin, who is also Gambir assemblyman, said suppliers have also been asked to expedite delivery of the vaccine, which is scheduled to arrive in March. 

“(Whether the vaccine is) effective of not, let’s not get the people upset with the Prime Minister (for not purchasing enough)… the others have purchased, so I am also doing the same… we will quickly buy more,” he said.

“I also told the ministers to inform the suppliers to expedite delivery… this (matter) is of most importance,” the Pagoh member of parliament said.

On Nov 24, the government, through the health ministry, signed a preliminary purchasing agreement with pharmaceutical company Pfizer to obtain 12.8 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to meet the immunisation needs of 20% or 6.4 million Malaysians.

Two days before that, an agreement with the COVAX facility was also signed to meet the immunisation needs of another 10 per cent of Malaysians.

Meanwhile, the prime minister also instructed Covid-19 temporary hospitals to be reopened in view of the high number of new cases in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Negeri Sembilan, Johor and several other areas.

“This means that although the measures taken by the government have been quite effective when compared to other countries, we have to yet to overcome the pandemic.

“We have not been able to flatten the curve, and according to projections, this could take a very long time,” he said.

Muhyiddin said he has been chairing National Security Council meetings on Covid-19 from the first day he clocked in as prime minister without proper rest.

“Today as well without rest. As long as the people are facing danger in the form of Covid-19, I will not rest. I will continue working, managing Covid-19 and the country’s economy,” he said.

Meanwhile, Muhyiddin said the government was conducting a comprehensive study on the number of Malaysians who had fallen below the poverty line as a result of the pandemic.

“The poverty line income has been raised to RM2,208 and when it is raised many will fall into the B40 group.. the poor and hardcore poor.

“When Covid-19 happened, many could not work or conduct business… even if it’s just a stall...income fell and companies stopped hiring too,” he added. — Bernama