By John Isaac
THE European Union (EU) has denied allegations by coordinating minister of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP), Khairy Jamaluddin, that the bloc was hoarding vaccines.
EU ambassador to Malaysia Michalis Rokas said the claims were baseless because the EU’s actions proved that it was very concerned about the issue.
“All requests from the Malaysian government regarding the distribution of vaccines to this country have been approved without any problems by the EU Secretariat,” he said at the virtual launch of the EU-Asean Programme to Support Covid-19 Response in Malaysia, according to a report by Kosmo Online.
According to Bernama, Rokas said the EU had approved the export of about five million doses of vaccines so as to help Malaysia accelerate the NIP.
He said that figures as of June 15 showed that a total of 4.87 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 560,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine had been shipped to Malaysia, adding that these were procured via the Covax scheme.
“All these exports, as per request by Malaysia, were approved instantly, that is within two to three days and also been given due exception because of the pandemic emergency,” he said.
Rokas was speaking a day after Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy had launched a stunning broadside against global vaccine inequity and countries which hoard Covid-19 vaccines.
Responding to a comment piece in Utusan Malaysia that unfavourably compared the vaccination programme rollout in Malaysia and in Hungary, Khairy charged that EU countries had been stocking up on supplies.
“Are you aware Hungary is part of the European Union? And that the EU had negotiated with the vaccine manufacturers as a bloc with the purchasing power of the EU?
“And among the vaccine manufacturers, some of them are based in Europe, so they have been hoarding vaccines from the start.
“Asian countries including Japan, a developed country, are very behind (with the vaccination) compared to European countries, the US, the UK, Canada and so on,” Khairy had said.
Meanwhile at yesterday’s virtual function, Health Minister Dr Adham Baba said that Malaysia will collaborate with the EU in the field of research and development, with a focus on Covid-19 management and response so as to strengthen its overall emergency preparedness and healthcare system capacity.
“We are all fighting against the same enemy and, with solidarity and good regional cooperation, we will win this battle,” he said.
Also present at the virtual event were World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore Dr Lo Ying-Ru Jacqueline and Programme Management and technical officer of the WHO Representative Office for Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore Dr Paul Soo. – Malaysiakini