Khairy: Phase 3 of COVID-19 immunisation programme might be delayed due to insufficient vaccines

Phase 3 of the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP) might be delayed beyond its intended kick-off in May, coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin said today.

Khairy attributed this to the lack of supplies in the global vaccine distribution chain as pharmaceutical companies seemingly prioritised richer countries which led to slower vaccination rollouts in developing countries.

“Phase Three was supposed to start in May but I don’t know if we will have enough supplies. We need to make an announcement on that (later).

“Of course as a developing country, we are extremely dissatisfied with the distribution of vaccines around the world.

“This has been a matter highlighted not just by developing countries but also concerns voiced by United Nation’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who said that the rollout of vaccine supplies as far as the first half of 2021 is concerned, is completely inequitable and frankly unethical,” he told a press conference at the World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur COVID-19 vaccination centre here.

Khairy, however, assured that the minor setback in vaccine supplies is set to change beginning June as most of the richer countries finish inoculating a majority of their citizens.

He earlier highlighted Malaysia’s vaccination program efficiency in successfully providing vaccination appointments to some 260,000 people in the span of 48 hours, in reference to the ongoing opt-in AstraZeneca vaccination program which officially started today.

“I am not pushing the blame on anybody, but I am just trying to manage expectations here in Malaysia.

“People come to me all the time telling me they want the vaccines. It’s not they are sitting in a freezer here in KL but they have not arrived yet. They arrive on a very gradual basis.

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“So it’s like a scene from Titanic where the guys from the lower class are waiting for the lifeboats and the guys from the upper cabin have already gone onto them. That is what’s happening,” he said.

In March this year, Guterres criticised the “self-interest” of rich countries for ‘stocking’ vaccine supplies beyond the needs of their populations.

Guterres had lamented that the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access or Covax international system of vaccine aid to disadvantaged countries was experiencing “difficulties” due to hoarding.  — Malay Mail