Pakatan vaccination committee urges strategy rethink to speed up inoculation rate

KUALA LUMPUR : Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) Covid-19 Vaccination Committee has urged the Health Ministry as well as the Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) to review its current vaccine strategies and expedite the vaccination rate.

It said the current vaccination drive is too slow and ineffective, and has failed to curb the record-breaking spike of infections in Malaysia, which hit a record high of 6,806 new cases today (May 20).

“The committee would therefore like to put forward three recommendations, which include speeding up the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) vaccine approval, expanding the basket of vaccines mix, and allowing state governments and private hospitals to provide vaccines to paying customers,” it said in a statement.

The PH committee said the NPRA must firstly expedite the review and approval of vaccine candidates, especially those approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and corresponding health authorities overseas.

People receive their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur May 15, 2021. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
People receive their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur May 15, 2021. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

“The tedious bureaucratic processes must be cut short and expedited, while preserving the independence of the review process to ensure swift approvals and safeguarding the safety and efficacy of those vaccines.

“Presently the Sputnik V and Cansino vaccines are still pending approval after many months.

This is too slow, and the process can be sped up with the assistance from peer competent agencies from other nations,” it said.

Noting that the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine has already been approved by 60 countries worldwide, the committee recommended the NPRA should attempt to obtain the necessary data and speed up the approval process.

“If the two aforementioned vaccines are approved, the resulting acceleration of the vaccine rollout would play a major role in fighting the current spike of Covid-19,” it said.

On expanding the current selection of vaccines, the committee said the government must take the initiative to procure new WHO-approved vaccines, including Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen and Moderna.

“We should also start to negotiate with late-stage trial vaccines such as Sinopharm, Novavax and more.

“The government must not be content with the current variety of vaccines, as pharmaceutical companies have directed their priorities to wealthier nations,” it said.

As Malaysia can afford to purchase vaccines at or above market price to secure early vaccine delivery, similar to Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the committee said the adverse impact of slow vaccination to the economy greatly overshadows the cost of spending a little more to buy vaccines.

It said the third strategy of liberalising the vaccination program to enable the state governments and private healthcare entities, including hospitals and medical providers, to procure and vaccinate paid customers would in turn draw market forces to fill the gap.

“The federal government would then be enabled to use their limited resources to focus on efforts to vaccinate the rest of the population.

“It must also refrain from repeating previous mistakes in vaccination procurement. Malaysia was late in procurement compared to neighbouring countries such as Singapore and Indonesia,” said the committee.

This wait-and-see attitude has led to the failure to control the current spike and has consequently claimed many Malaysian lives.

“As grave as our situation may seem, all is not lost. Now it is time for us to take a stand to rethink our vaccine strategies and save lives,” it said.

By : JERRY CHOONG – MALAY MAIL

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