Researchers from two local universities looking into Covid vaccine production, Khairy tells Anwar

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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KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 — Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) Khairy Jamaluddin today said that two local universities have been tasked with research and development (R&D) of Covid-19 vaccines.

He said his ministry has provided funding for the R&D of a local vaccine for Covid-19 through Mosti’s Combating Covid-19 Fund to two groups of researchers, namely from the University of Malaya and Universiti Putra Malaysia.

“We are aware Malaysia does not have a complete vaccine manufacturing facility. That is why in the negotiations for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccine from several suppliers, the government has included a value-added element to enable Malaysia to develop vaccine development capacity in the country in the future,” he said in a statement.

Khairy was responding to Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who yesterday asked the government how soon until Malaysia builds up its own vaccine-producing facilities.

Khairy said Malaysia has engaged with producers of Covid-19 vaccine to gain knowledge, especially on the R&D side.  

The Rembau MP then refuted Anwar’s comments that there was a lack of transparency in the procurement of Covid-19 vaccine.

He said while non-disclosure agreements have been signed, he and Health Minister Dr Adham Baba have presented information on the procurement to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

“The PAC, through a statement by its chairman, who is also the Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor from DAP, has stated that it is satisfied with the presentation and procurement procedures of the Covid-19 vaccine. There are also PKR representatives in the PAC,” he said, adding that information on these will be shared with MPs soon enough.

Khairy also said that those who have registered for Covid-19 vaccination through the MySejahtera application in an incomplete manner will receive SMS notifications to complete their registrations starting today.

Yesterday, Anwar queried as to why local universities and medical research institutions are not at the forefront of vaccine development.

He said Malaysia had in the past produced antidotes for the Nipah virus among others, which proves that country has the capability to research and develop vaccines.

The PKR president said that the government has also yet to address the “lack of transparency” in the purchase and rollout of the vaccines, with some RM3 billion in taxpayers’ money being spent on various vaccines.

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