Rafidah: Why the U-turn after free vaccine pledge

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“Iron Lady” Rafidah Aziz has doubled down on her criticism of the decision to allow the sale of 14 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine to states and private entities.

Referring to a report last year by Bernama, Rafidah pointed out that the prime minister had said then that Covid-19 vaccine would be given free to Malaysians. Foreigners, meanwhile, would have to pay.

In February, it was reported that Putrajaya would offer free vaccines to foreign workers as well under the national immunisation programme, including diplomats, expatriates, students, and UNHCR cardholders.

“This is what the prime minister said to the people in November 2020. To the sceptics, I do read and remember.

“Why the U-turn now to allow any company to sell vaccines?” the former international trade and industry minister said in a Facebook post.

Her comments come hours after vaccination minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the private sector participation has always been part of the government’s plan once a sufficient supply of vaccines has been secured.

This, he said, was to speed up the vaccination rate in the country.

Two days ago, Rafidah demanded the Covid-19 vaccine supply access guarantee special committee (JKJAV) explain the decision to allow the sale of 14 million Sinovac doses to states and private entities.

The people, she said, should not be made to pay for “what should be free”.

She said this in response to the announcement that Pharmaniaga Bhd would sell the vaccine to interested states and private companies from this month till September.

The pharmaceutical giant was given the green light to do so by JKJAV.

Yesterday, Khairy said pharmaceutical companies with access to supplies of vaccines would be able to offer them in the private market next month.

He also said the ceiling price and sales guidelines had been set for the sale of the vaccines to private parties.

“The ceiling price is to ensure that the vaccine is not sold at too high a price,” he said. – FMT