Health Ministry to launch probe into Covid-19 vaccine distribution deal claim by Mestron

Minister of Health Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba denies that Mestron has been issued any clearance for any vaccine distribution deal. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Minister of Health Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba denies that Mestron has been issued any clearance for any vaccine distribution deal. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 — Local holding company Mestron Holdings Berhad is being investigated by the Ministry of Health for alleging it has been granted approval to go ahead with a Covid-19 vaccine distribution deal.

Malaysiakini reported its minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba as denying such approval had been given, adding that Mestron has never been issued any clearance letter to do so.

“In my capacity as the minister I did not issue any support letters to the company. I have confirmed with my deputy minister, who confirmed with his senior private secretary that no support or clearance letter was issued,” he said when contacted.

Similarly, Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah also said he is unaware of any supposed deal by Mestron, and that its claim would be looked into.

He said that a vaccine can only be administered if it is approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).

“All vaccines must be registered under NPRA. That is the mandatory requirement,” he said.

In the company’s announcement of the deal via a filing with Bursa Malaysia on Friday, its managing director Por Teong Eng said Mestron received a clearance letter from the ministry to begin negotiations and co-operative efforts with firms in China for the importation, distribution, sale, marketing, use and application of the Covid-19 vaccine in Malaysia.

He said the company has commenced talks with Zhongyu Yexing (Chengdu) Industrial Co Ltd to collaborate in the distribution of the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) Covid-19 vaccines in Malaysia.

Por added that Zhongyu Yexing is prepared to supply some three million doses once the vaccine is approved in Malaysia, with Mestron expected to invest up to RM20 million in the joint venture.

The company, described as a supplier of street lighting and traffic cameras, insisted it had been granted clearance by claiming the clearance letter was dated January 8, in response to the ministry’s statement yesterday denying this.

At present the NPRA has given conditional registration to only the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine thus far, while the two Sinopharm vaccines remain in phase three clinical trials and neither has been approved for use in Malaysia.

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