Khairy: Malaysia deemed ‘upper middle income’ nation, not qualified for free Covid-19 vaccines or discounts

Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin during a visit to the vaccination centre at the Indera Mulia Stadium in Ipoh March 16, 2021. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin during a visit to the vaccination centre at the Indera Mulia Stadium in Ipoh March 16, 2021. — Picture by Farhan Najib

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IPOH, March 16 — Malaysia bought all its Covid-19 vaccines at full price, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said.

He clarified that Malaysia was not given the vaccines free as claimed because it is not a low-income country.

“A lot of countries get free vaccines from China, India and Russia because they are considered a lower income country.

“Even in Covax, we did not get any assistance because we were categorised as an upper middle income country,” he told a press conference after visiting the vaccination centre at the Indera Mulia Stadium here.

Covax is the Covid-19 vaccine pillar of the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. The ACT Accelerator is a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to Covid-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.

Khairy also said that Malaysia did not get any discount on the Covid-19 vaccines.

“So that is the unfortunate situation Malaysia is in. We are a full paying country in Covax. We don’t get anything for free and have to buy all our vaccines,” he added in response to Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who asked the government in a statement yesterday if Malaysia had been offered free Covid-19 vaccine from India.

Khairy clarified that Malaysia is consulting with India to purchase the Novavax vaccines.

“I have met and negotiated with the Indian high commissioner. However, we are not only discussing with the Indian government, but also several companies such as the Serum Institute of India to purchase the Novavax vaccines.

“They have recently published their clinical data that their vaccine has higher effectiveness,” he said.

“However, India has several regulations on the purchase of the vaccine,” he added.

Khairy also said that India has offered the Bharat Biotech vaccine, developed there.

“But the problem is that the company is yet to complete the third phase clinical trial for the vaccine.

“So it's a bit difficult for us to purchase it as there is not any clinical data even though they have used it for the immunisation programme in India,” the minister said.

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