PUTRAJAYA, Dec 23 — Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin is prepared to give a briefing to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine including the cost details but the committee members must comply with the condition of secrecy as stipulated by the vaccine manufacturers.
He said the briefing was in reply to a statement by DAP leader Lim Kit Siang who alleged the price of COVID-19 vaccine paid by Malaysia was about 20 times the price obtained by the Belgian government.
“For the time being, all governments including Malaysia are subject to the condition of secrecy and as such we cannot give the price details based on each vaccine producer.
“ If we breach the condition, it will affect our agreement with the vaccine manufacturing company. It is their condition, not ours,” he told a media conference on the development to procure COVID-19 vaccine here today.
Asked whether he was worried if PAC members would disseminate the information given in the briefing, Khairy said he wanted to be transparent on the vaccine procurement and there was no choice except to meet PAC as the representative of the people.
“I want to be as transparent as possible, I want to tell Malaysians that I am very happy with the price we got from Pfizer, if I could I would like to say it now but I can’t. Even based on the so-called leaked European Union (EU) price, I’m even happier about the price we got,” he said.
Khairy stressed that the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine from pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer (United States) and AstraZeneca (United Kingdom) was made through direct negotiation and not through middlemen or distributors.
According to him, AstraZeneca also issued a press statement today which confirmed that Malaysia was buying the vaccine at cost which was the price given by AstraZeneca.
On the allegation of Pasir Salak MP, Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman that there were parties reaping RM500 million in commission in the purchase of COVID-19 vaccine, Khairy said it was a baseless claim.
“As I said before this, that we directly negotiated with Pfizer and AstraZeneca and in another third pharmaceutical company, the government was also involved in the negotiation even though it was being acquired by a local company.
“It is a tripartite negotiation involving Sinovac, the Malaysia government and a local company to ensure we obtain the best price. There is no commission,” he said.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the government had signed an agreement with AstraZeneca to obtain 6.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine which was another 10 per cent of vaccine supply to be acquired by the country.
He explained that this meant the government had now acquired an overall guaranteed supply of 40 per cent including the two agreements signed earlier with COVAX and Pfizer
He said the government was also in the final stage of negotiation with Sinovac and CanSinoBIO of China as well as The Gamaleya National Centre of Russia to obtain additional vaccine supply for more than 80 per cent of the country’s population or 26.5 million.