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By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Nov 8: The Sarawak government is maintaining engagement with major pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer-BioNTech (Pfizer) and has set aside funding to purchase Covid-19 treatment pills which are in great demand globally.
This effort continues despite Sarawak lawmakers and ministers no longer playing an active role in the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) following the dissolution of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) on Nov 3.
“All these latest treatments are not going to be cheap but CM Abg Jo (Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg) had earlier instructed to buy whatever is necessary, to compliment or supplement KKM (Health Ministry) as long as the medical treatments save lives of fellow Sarawakians.
“CM Abg Jo had left enough funding (forward planning) with SDMC (chaired by State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion during this interim) and our medical expertise from Scovag (Sarawak Covid-19 Advisory Group) and JKNS (SDMC) had been asked to actively engage with all the multinational pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer during the interim while no YBs or Ministers (are) in their committee as we don’t want Sarawak to lose any precious time (over the 60-day period within which State elections must be held) in negotiating in the ‘oral Covid-19 pills’ which are not only in high demand as everyone will try to use all the different methods to get their hands on these drugs.
“(I) am very confident that Pfizer Malaysia, (which has worked) closely with me over the last 20 years including as their regional Principal Investigator (though am from jungle of Borneo) of their emerging cardiovascular drugs clinical trials on multiple occasions, will extend that relationship to our Scovag so we can have a headstart in our race to fight Covid-19 in Sarawak,” said Local Government and Housing Minister Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian in a social media post yesterday.
Apart from Pfizer, he said, Scovag and SDMC are also in talks with F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG (Roche) for its IV RegenCov which costs USD6,000 per dose, with MERCK (commonly known as MSD) and its oral treatment Molnupiravir which has already granted authorisation by the United Kingdom Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency for emergency use and AstraZeneca for tixagevimba and cligavimab.
He noted that while the coronavirus mutates constantly but medical scientists are also stepping up their efforts.
Dr Sim who is the Batu Kawa incumbent said in less than 24 months, the world had gone from having no Covid-19 vaccines, no antibodies and no drugs but only 100 per cent non-pharmaceutical public health measures such as the implementation of lockdowns, the use of facemasks, and keeping social and physical distancing to the present situation where there is the emergence of promising medical treatments including oral drugs.
“With all these unprecedented speed (sic) of medical scientific advancements, the end of Covid-19 is in sight, although unfortunately not so soon,” said Dr Sim. — DayakDaily