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Malaysia did not overpay for vaccines, says KJ’s adviser

An adviser to health minister Khairy Jamaluddin said there is no merit to a claim that Malaysia has overpaid for Covid-19 vaccines due to cronyism.

Responding to a Twitter post by consultant paediatrician Dr Musa Mohd Nordin, who said “cronies” in the supply chain raised the cost of Malaysia’s vaccine procurement, Dimishtra Sittampalam said the doctor’s allegation was “serious and baseless”.

“When Malaysia negotiated with Moderna, it was directly with Moderna Inc, as what was done with Pfizer,” he said on Twitter today.

“(The) price quoted to us was much higher than Pfizer, which had a similar mRNA profile. We have bought 44 million doses of Pfizer.”

Dimishtra, who also served as Khairy’s technology adviser when he was the minister of science, technology and innovation, added that general prices of vaccines are available online – and said it is well-established that Moderna is one of the most expensive vaccines.

“All contracts have been revealed to the PAC (Public Accounts Committee), which comprises MPs from both the government and the opposition. They were satisfied with the contracts,” he added.

Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, a member of the PAC, also came to the ministry’s defence, saying the committee was satisfied with the vaccine procurement process and there was merit to the vaccine portfolio choices.

She said the public could read about it in PAC’s forthcoming report on the matter, which also took into account pharmaceutical companies’ non-disclosure agreements.

An outspoken critic of the government’s handling of the pandemic, Musa had said that vaccines were affordable but claimed that “it’s the cronies in the supply chain transaction” who make them expensive.

“Such is Malaysia’s business culture and ethics,” he said on Twitter. “The price should be capped to ensure affordability.”


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