PETALING JAYA: Two ex-MPs have called for former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin to provide a better explanation regarding wasted Covid-19 doses, for which he recently took full responsibility.
Dr Lee Boon Chye said Khairy needed to clarify why he decided to purchase additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Lee, a former deputy health minister, said there was “insufficient evidence” to support the benefit of a second booster dose of Pfizer’s MRNA vaccines, the fourth dose administered and the only one approved by Putrajaya.
He said the previous government had relied exclusively on Pfizer for the second booster dose, despite the absence of credible data. Meanwhile, data from China showed that the final efficacy of non-MRNA vaccines was similar to Pfizer’s MRNA vaccine, he added.
“The government could have avoided ordering more Pfizer vaccines by allowing Sinovac vaccines, especially for those who had received two Sinovac doses, as boosters.
“Khairy needs to explain why he decided to purchase the additional doses of Pfizer vaccines,” the former Gopeng MP told FMT.
The Public Accounts Committee’s report on the country’s Covid-19 management, released last month, revealed that the 8.5 million doses of expired vaccines had cost the country RM505 million.
According to the PAC report, the wastage was blamed by the authorities on poor demand for booster vaccination due to the lack of a vaccine mandate and fear of side effects amid misinformation.
The wastage was also attributed to the delay in Malaysia receiving the vaccines due to the high global demand.
Meanwhile, DAP’s Charles Santiago said Khairy’s admission that the wastage happened under his watch was “noble”, but he also had to explain the “dynamics and calculations” involved in the decision to order more vaccines during the crisis.
“Was there a middleman involved? If so, how much was the commission? What’s the logic behind ordering additional vaccines? He must show that there was a discussion held and the decision to order additional vaccines was not done arbitrarily.”
The former Klang MP said most governments spent more than needed at the time as no one knew how serious the pandemic was.
But all minutes of meetings need to be made public for the benefit of taxpayers and those scrutinising these purchases, he said.
Santiago went on to say the wastage of vaccines made it more urgent for the country to have an adequate support system, such as a vaccine production centre, and a plan in place to respond to such emergencies.