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Millions of Covid-19 Vaccines Wasted as Doses Expire

A total of 8,499,950 doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the Health Ministry’s inventory have expired as of May 2 this year, according to the White Paper on Covid-19 Vaccine Procurement Management.

These involved 3,487,730 doses stored in ministry facilities and 5,012,220 doses in its storage facilities.

They comprised 2,339,109 doses of Vaxzevria vaccine by AstraZeneca, 3,240,350 doses of Convidecia by CanSino Biologics, 76,423 doses or CoronaVac by Sinovac and 2,753,440 doses of Pfizer Inc’s Cominarty vaccine for adults as well as 90,628 doses of Cominarty version for children.

The document, which was released in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, said the disposal and records of inventory are conducted in accordance with the Asset and Store Management Guidelines.

“In an effort to curb the wastage of Covid-19 vaccines, the Health Ministry offered the vaccines to other countries.

“A total of 1,892,000 doses of vaccines of various brands were donated to countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the paper said.

It added that the Cabinet had agreed in principle to donate the vaccines to countries in need and the ministry was tasked to manage its distribution with other agencies.

A total of 72.80 million doses of vaccines were administered under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) while Malaysia had a vaccine portfolio of over 83 million doses.

Apart from the vaccines procured by Malaysia, the country also received 5.03 million doses contributed by countries such as Japan, United States, China, Britain, United Arab Emirates and Singapore.

This comprised Pfizer’s Comirnaty, Sinopharm, Sinovac’s CoronaVac as well as the AstraZeneca vaccines.

The report said RM4.482bil was spent on vaccine procurement and logistics as of April 30, 2023. The government allocated RM4.651bil for the fund, comprising RM3.996bil from the National Trust Fund and the rest from the Covid-19 Fund. The government was left with a balance of about RM168.93mil.

On Nov 23, 2020, the Finance Ministry approved the Standard Operating Procedure for Covid-19 Vaccine Procurement which includes direct negotiations, open tender and quotations without limit.

“The direct negotiations method for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines will speed up the procurement process to be in line with the current needs to ensure that the vaccines received is safe, effective and is of high quality,” it said.

“As for Covid-19 logistics procurement, the procurement was done via direct negotiations and quotation with no cap,” it added.

Malaysia chose the Optional Purchase Agreement when it joined the Covid-19 vaccine global access (Covax) platform, which allowed participating countries to get vaccines supplies to accommodate 10% of the population.

The Optional Purchase Agreement gave the country the flexibility to choose the suitable vaccine candidate.

In addition to the procurement via Covax Facility, the government made direct negotiations with vaccine producers.

This included increasing the Pfizer order from 12.8 million to 32 million doses and subsequently 44.8 million doses.

The Sinovac vaccine order was increased from 12.4 million doses to 20.4 million.

The paper said the failure by Covax to adhere to the vaccine delivery schedule prompted the government to make direct negotiations with vaccine producers.

Covax also could not confirm its vaccine delivery schedule to Malaysia as it had to depend on production by the vaccine manufacturers.

As a result, Malaysia only received its 268,800 doses on April 23, 2021, and 559,200 in May 21, 2021.

Another 559,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine which was supposed to be delivered in June 2021 were only received on September that year.

“The delivery schedule for 453,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were only confirmed at the end of 2021,” it said.

Other factors disrupting the delivery schedule include Pfizer having to stop operations to upgrade its manufacturing facilities to increase capacity following the surge in demand for the Covid-19 vaccine worldwide.

Source : Asia News Network