THE Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said it would not be fair to put the blame on the government for the high wastages of COVID-19 vaccines at a time when every country was rushing to secure enough vaccines for their population.
MMA president Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai said due to the high global demand for the vaccines, there were concerns about the supply and it was perhaps right to assume at the time that everyone was going to be vaccinated.
“We did achieve a high percentage of full vaccinations although the uptake for the vaccines had dropped during and after the rollout of the first booster,” he clarified.
“By then, most economic sectors were opening up and the number of COVID-19 infections were on the decline.
“We cannot blame the government for the low uptake in booster shots. There was ample supply of the vaccines but many chose not to get boosted even though it was recommended by the Health Ministry and medical experts.”
Dr Muruga said it should also be noted that proof of full vaccination is no longer a requirement for air travel and therefore, a percentage of people who did not want to be vaccinated in the first place would have remained unvaccinated.
“Considering the high demand for vaccines at the start of 2021, we feel that the government did well in securing more than enough vaccines for the population,” he remarked.
“At the time, every country’s health ministry would have targeted a 90–100% vaccination and booster rate but the demand for vaccines dipped by the time the programme for booster shots had rolled out.”
On transparency in spending public funds, Dr Muruga acknowledged that there were non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that were signed between pharmaceutical companies and the government.
He said that the government had to honour those NDAs in order to secure vaccine supplies, and any breaches of the NDA could haver resulted in lawsuits.
“Overall, we believe the government at the time did its best to negotiate for the best deal for the vaccines but we may not have had the bargaining power due to the high global demand,” he added. – June 9, 2023
Main pic credit: Reuters