KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 – Tensions around the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines have erupted into a gruesome fight between Putrajaya and state governments, notably Penang, amid the rising epidemic in Malaysia which has failed still reached its peak.
The federal government – represented by Khairy Jamaluddin, the coordinating minister of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Program (PICK) – on Wednesday described an individual’s offer to donate two million doses of Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine to the Penang state government as a “con”.
Khairy had said the Hong Kong-based company named Xintai Development Enterprise Ltd – which the individual Mr. Yong Chee Kong claimed to represent – was unregistered, according to the company’s research records. Khairy also said that the vaccine developer, China-based Sinovac Biotech Ltd, had informed him that he had not received any inquiries regarding the alleged donation.
A closely named company – Xintai Enterprise Development Ltd – is indeed registered in Hong Kong, but Yong’s letter to Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow spelled the company name as Xintai Development Enterprise Ltd. .
Yong appeared to give different accounts than his intended donation, story Malaysian courier that he was acting in his personal capacity to give the vaccines, but story Free malaysia today that it was his employer, Xintai Enterprise Development, who wanted to bring the Sinovac vaccines to Penang.
The cost of two million doses of Sinovac vaccine is enormous. Sinovac coronavirus vaccine price reportedly fixed starting as low as $ 5 (RM 20.73) per dose in Thailand, $ 14 (RM 58.04) in India, $ 17 (RM 70.48) in Indonesia, and maybe $ 38 (157, RM55) in the Philippines. These prices indicated relate to government orders; the prices of small orders placed by private parties are likely to be higher.
The price of Sinovac vaccine for Malaysia is unknown, due to the federal government’s confidentiality agreements with the vaccine developer. Similar confidentiality agreements are used by other producers of Covid-19 vaccines in other countries.
This means that the value of two million doses of Sinovac vaccine can range from RM 41.5 million (not insignificant) to RM 315.1 million.
Then there are the state governments of Selangor and Sarawak. Sarawak appears to have bypassed the vaccine minister and went directly to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to get approval of buy 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine.
The Sarawak state government has not disclosed whether it obtains the domestically produced product from the local pharmaceutical company Pharmaniaga Bhd or the finished vaccine imported by Pharmaniaga from China, or from another distributor importing the finished vaccine. from China.
The Selangor state government has said it has reserved 2.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine and plans to roll out its own coronavirus vaccination program next month under the SELGATE umbrella Corporation, a public enterprise. State executive adviser Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud declined to name the brand of the approved vaccine ordered by the state.
Malaysian law does not prohibit companies with no medical or medical training from distributing pharmaceutical products, including Covid-19 vaccines, as long as those products have been approved by the National Drug Regulatory Agency (NPRA). Although a local business can be designated by a foreign manufacturer as the local product registration holder to register its products in Malaysia, this does not prevent the manufacturer from appointing multiple distributors to distribute their products.
Companies with no track record in the pharmaceutical industry such as a manufacturer of bamboo products, a provider of digital government services and a wire and cable manufacturer, which only diversified into the healthcare sector during the Covid-19 pandemic last year, has already announced plans to distribute coronavirus vaccines in Malaysia.
How can Putrajaya, state governments and the private sector get vaccinated against Sinovac?
In light of the limited global supplies of Covid-19 vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford, this article will focus on Sinovac, the third coronavirus vaccine approved by the NPRA for use in Malaysia.
The federal government has appointed Pharmaniaga as the sole manufacturer – to undertake the fill and finish processing, the last stage of manufacture, of Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine – and the sole distributor of the vaccine. In addition to manufacturing the vaccine locally, Pharmaniaga can and has purchased the finished product in Beijing.
The federal government, state governments, and the private sector can obtain Sinovac vaccines in three ways: the completed and finished vaccine manufactured by Pharmaniaga, the finished product imported from Sinovac’s manufacturing site in Beijing, China, which is distributed by Pharmaniaga, or another major distributor and distributing the finished vaccine from the Sinovac plant in Beijing.
Khairy told Pharmaniaga in no uncertain terms during his press conference on Wednesday to prioritize and honor the federal government’s order of 12 million doses of Sinovac vaccine – whether through filling and finishing or by importing the finished product.
Pharmaniaga asserted in a May 11 statement that it is capable of producing two million doses per month at its factory in Puchong and as of May 10, it has manufactured 1,284,147 doses of the Sinovac vaccine, of which 290,480 doses have been deployed, while 400,000 doses of the finished product have already been distributed for PICK. This leaves around 11.3 million doses of the order of Putrajaya to be filled.
the government-linked company (GLC) said last February that in addition to the 12 million doses of Sinovac vaccine that it is supplying to Putrajaya, it has also purchased an additional two million doses which will be manufactured locally for the private market. Nonetheless, Khairy asked Pharmaniaga to prioritize the federal government order for PICK.
Blue code spoke with the CEO of the Galen Center for Health and Social Policy, Azrul Mohd Khalib, for the remainder of this article:
How does a manufacturer prioritize Covid-19 vaccine orders?
Usually it is determined by what is agreed in the agreement between the manufacturer and the customer who purchases these vaccines. There could be clauses in the agreement that say their order should take precedence over lower value orders or that they are required to prioritize government orders due to a public health emergency.
We have seen a controversy erupt in Europe over the invocation of such clauses by the European Commission in its order with AstraZeneca. In reality, order priority could very well be decided by the manufacturer, based on order volume, value, timing, as well as influenced by geopolitical priorities.
Can Pharmaniaga fulfill multiple orders for Covid-19 vaccines from Putrajaya and other parties (state governments or private sector) simultaneously?
Of course, it could. As a private company, it should be able to accept and fulfill these orders simultaneously on a staggered or staggered basis, so that all orders can be filled.
But as a GLC, Pharmaniaga may be required by his status to fulfill and complete the federal government’s order before he begins working on those of others, especially since his vaccine delivery is part of the national program of vaccination.
While there may not be any legal imperative to do so, Pharmaniaga will likely be compelled or ordered by the council to take this position, due to her relationship with the federal government.
Does the appointment of multiple distributors allow faster access to Covid-19 vaccines?
When there is a finite number of vaccines that are produced by a small number of known manufacturers (i.e. Sinovac in China and Pharmaniaga in Malaysia), increasing the number of distributors does not really mean that the level of access improves or the amount of the vaccine increases.
This is because they all have access to the same source for vaccines. There is no diversity of manufacturers. Instead, it could lead to competition between those who ordered the vaccines: the federal and state governments.
What is the role of the distributor? Is the distributor responsible for serious side effects of Covid-19 vaccines?
A distributor is usually the point of contact through which the supply of goods is made, especially when the manufacturing company does not have a local presence in the country. He typically takes care of most of the business interactions involved in sourcing, taking responsibility for ensuring prompt and complete delivery of orders placed.
The distributor is generally not responsible for any side effects caused by the product they deliver, which in this case are vaccines. These issues regarding adverse drug reactions or adverse drug events are generally addressed and reported to the vaccine manufacturer.
However, in the case of the Covid-19 public health emergency, it is possible that vaccine manufacturers have obtained full compensation for any adverse event. This was seen in the case of Pfizer with the UK and Singapore, as a guarantee for the supply of their vaccine.
If Malaysia also entered into the same deal, it would mean that the Malaysian government would be primarily and independently responsible for any adverse effects from the use of this particular vaccine. If there are damages to be awarded, they will be payable by the Malaysian government.