PETALING JAYA,Mar 16: Science, technology and innovation minister Khairy Jamaluddin has responded to questions raised by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim regarding Malaysia’s vaccine development capacity.

Yesterday evening, the PKR president questioned why Malaysia’s medical and educational institutions were not at the forefront of vaccine development, and as whether Malaysia was gaining knowledge from producers the country is buying vaccines from.

Responding to Anwar today, Khairy said local institutions were being tapped to undertake research and development (R&D) of vaccines.

“I would like to inform that MOSTI (his ministry) has funded the R&D of the local vaccine for Covid-19 disease through the MOSTI Combating Covid-19 Fund to two groups of researchers, namely from Universiti Malaya and Universiti Putra Malaysia,” he said in a statement.

“Yet at the same time, we also acknowledge that Malaysia does not have a complete vaccine manufacturing facility. Thus, in the negotiations for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccine with several suppliers, the government has included a value-added element to enable Malaysia to develop vaccine development capacity in the country in the future.”

On concerns raised by Anwar over registration difficulties, Khairy said he had spoken about how incomplete vaccine registration was being addressed, with those who have incorrectly applied to receive a text message requesting they complete the form.

He also looked to allay Anwar’s concerns on anti-vaxxers, assuring him that the health ministry, the Office of the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Islamic Religious Affairs) and the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) were engaged in awareness programmess aimed at addressing vaccine hesitancy.

Khairy also refuted Anwar’s comments on a lack of transparency in procurement, reminding the opposition leader that while a non-disclosure agreement had been signed, he and health minister Dr Adham Baba had 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 the PAC is satisfied with the presentation and procurement procedures of the Covid-19 vaccine. There are also PKR representatives in the PAC,” he said.

He said further information sessions with MPs would be held soon, and hoped that Anwar and other opposition members could attend.


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