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Singapore got Pfizer earlier likely due to Temasek stake in BioNTech: Khairy in justifying Malaysia’s vaccine approach

Singapore got Pfizer earlier likely due to Temasek stake in BioNTech: Khairy in justifying Malaysia’s vaccine approach

Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin. (File photo: Bernama)

KUALA LUMPUR: Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin said among the reasons why Singapore was ahead of Malaysia in securing access to COVID-19 vaccines could be due to Temasek Holdings having a stake in a company that developed the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Speaking at the special meeting of the Malaysian parliament on Wednesday (Jul 28), Mr Khairy, who coordinates the country's immunisation programme, noted that Temasek and other investors had invested US$250 million in the German company BioNTech.

According to a report by the Star, the minister pointed out that Israel was also among the first countries that received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last year, after it paid a hefty sum for the vaccine.

"Israel paid a very high price and they agreed to share vaccination data of their citizens with Pfizer-BioNTech, which is an option not available to other countries," he reportedly said during the winding-up speech in parliament after his briefing to members of parliament on Malaysia's COVID-19 immunisation efforts. 

Mr Khairy said another reason for Malaysia’s delay in getting vaccines such as Pfizer-BioNTech, was because the technology used in manufacturing it was relatively new and there was also an absence of clinical trial data available.

He added that other countries like Indonesia were ahead of Malaysia in getting COVID-19 vaccines because the country is a testing location for China's phase 3 Sinovac trials.

In the case of Malaysia, it took the ethical path by looking at interim reports and made orders after being satisfied with the efficacy and safety reports, Mr Khairy was quoted as saying by the Star.

READ: More than 17,000 new COVID-19 cases in Malaysia for second straight day, ICU numbers hit another high

He also said Malaysia is not the only country that was late in procuring vaccines, as there are many other first-world countries that chose to wait as well.

"Australia, South Korea, and Japan also received their vaccine supplies around the same time. This shows we made the same judgment as the other developing countries in the Asia Pacific region".

Currently, Malaysia's national vaccination programme uses Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Sinovac. 

The country has also granted conditional approval for emergency use to CanSino, Sinopharm and Janssen, and procured Russian-developed Sputnik V. It will also receive Novavax from the COVAX vaccine sharing programme.

With a more steady stream of supplies recently, vaccination has been ramped up across the country. The programme has been breaking daily records in terms of daily doses being administered. On Jul 28, more than 550,000 doses were administered.

Mr Khairy said in parliament on Wednesday that 38.2 per cent of Malaysia's population, or 12.49 million people, have received at least one dose of vaccine as of Jul 27. Of the total, over 5.9 million or 18.1 per cent of the population have been fully vaccinated.

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Source: Agencies/ih