MP calls for greater transparency, accountability over M’sia’s Covid-19 vaccination plan

Dr Kelvin Yii

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KUCHING, Dec 22: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii is calling for greater scrutiny over the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccine and distribution plan under the newly-formed Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Health, Science and Innovation so as to ensure transparency and accountability.

He emphasised that the bi-partisan PSC plays a crucial role in scrutinising and getting input especially on the approach taken by the federal government in handling Covid-19 matters including procurement and distribution of the vaccine which is expected to arrive in February next year.

“It is pertinent that the PSC is properly briefed on the updates and progress of the procurement and distribution by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (Mosti) in order to remove any doubts which could in turn affect public confidence, hesitance and acceptance of the vaccine,” he said in a statement today.

Noting that Mosti Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had made clarifications to some of the questions raised in Parliament, Dr Yii believed that there will be continuous questions throughout the process.

“And the best platform to ensure such accountability and transparency is through the PSC on Health, Science and Innovation now that they are empowered to scrutinise the whole process and to make sure that the vaccine reaches its intended target while minimising the risks of wastage or abuse,” he added.

This issue was raised following a Belgian minister’s exposure of Covid-19 vaccine prices which has given Malaysia an indication of how much it can expected to pay for the Pfizer-BioNTech version to be delivered here.

Based on the price quoted for Pfizer at US$14.71, Malaysia can expect to pay around RM374.5 mullion for the procurement to cover 20 per cent of the population, according to Khairy.

“So there will be questions as to whether we are getting the best deal from the RM3 billion allocated by the federal government with an aim to vaccinate 70 per cent of our population in order to achieve some sort of herd immunity,” Dr Yii elaborated.

Due to the urgency and huge public interest on the matter, Yii said he had pushed for the PSC to convene a meeting swiftly and to get down to work.

“The PSC is empowered to call up different stakeholders including people from the ministry, healthcare associations, research institutes, private medical fraternities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and many others to provide their input into our country’s Covid-19 approach,” he added.

he believed more transparency and accountability would increase public confidence in the vaccine as well as curb misinformation, confusion and hesitancy which would definitely affect the government’s mass vaccination plan.

“We also need to make sure that we are not left behind compared to other countries without compromising on the safety and security of our people.

“One of the major concerns is that based on the US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)’s projection, Malaysia is projected to experience a continuous rise in Covid-19 cases until mid-March 2021, hitting over 5,000 infections daily from Feb 25, 2021.

“If there is no urgent intervention, we may see our healthcare system being overwhelmed again by April or June,” he pointed out, stressing the need for an approach encompassing the entire society. — DayakDaily