The Covid-19 vaccination programme is a cash cow waiting to be milked by corrupt leaders.
Rich countries, including the US, UK, EU, Japan, Norway, Canada, Australia and Switzerland, have been actively blocking a proposal to boost the global production of Covid-19 vaccines. The proposal, which was jointly submitted by India and South Africa in October 2020, would temporarily waive intellectual property (IP) and patent rights on Covid vaccines.
Even though the proposal to urgently save humankind has been backed by more than 100 developing countries, they are powerless against a handful of selfish and greedy powerful nations. Despite the WHO’s (World Health Organization) repetitive warnings of “serious imbalance” in the distribution of vaccines, the high-income countries are more interested to protect their pockets.
If the rich nations agree to waive – even temporarily – the IP and patent rights, it could help countries around the world overcome legal barriers preventing them from producing their own Covid vaccines. But by doing so, it also means the powerful Western world leaders and pharmaceutical companies would lose control over their IP, not to mention the maximum profits they could milk.
What does this have to do with the backdoor government of Muhyiddin? The short answer – everything. The long answer – the refusal of the rich countries to allow more countries to produce vaccines and save more people in the shortest time possible is the same reason why the Muhyiddin regime is dragging its feet in allowing more parties to help vaccinate the people of Malaysia.
To date, an average of one in four people in high-income nations has received a Covid vaccine, compared to one-in-over-500 for people in low-income countries. Likewise, in Malaysia, all ministers, their families, friends, friends of friends, VIPs and even the King have received a Covid vaccine, compared to only 1.4% of ordinary people. That means 98-in-100 Malaysians are still waiting to be vaccinated.
According to Reuters’ data, Malaysia has administered 1,210,779 doses of Covid-19 vaccines so far. However, only about 462,000 people have been “fully” vaccinated out of its population of 33 million. Even if the plan is to vaccinate only 80% of its population, the percentage of people fully inoculated is merely 1.75%. But the statistics are just getting more interesting.
Malaysia’s vaccination programme started on 24 Feb this year, when Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin became the first person in Malaysia to receive a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. The last week reported the country averaged about 24,872 doses administered each day. At this incredible rate, it will need 257 days to administer enough doses for another 10% of the population.
But with 252 days left in the calendar year 2021, it means we would be lucky to cross the 11.4% milestone (24,872 doses over 257 days are enough to give full vaccination to 10% population, based on two doses for each person) before we sing “Auld Lang Syne”. At the same rate also, it would take another 1,865 days – starting Jan 2022 – to cover 80% of the population.
The calculator says an additional 1,865 days is about five years. Therefore, Malaysia can only achieve herd immunisation of 80% (about 27 million people) in the year 2027. Exactly how could 80% of Malaysians receive their Covid-19 vaccinations by year’s end, as trumpeted by the genius Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin less than two weeks ago?
Even if the plan was to just give one jab for every person to cover 80% of the population, it still needs 1,085 days or three years (based on the rate of 24,872 doses each day). In order to vaccinate 27 million Malaysians with at least one shot in 12 months, the number of doses to be administered every day must be 73,972 doses – three times the current rate of vaccination.
Khairy said that from June, vaccine supply will begin to outstrip the number of registrations for inoculation and by October, the country will have enough vaccines for 80% of the population. Malaysia received its first batch of 312,390 doses of Pfizer vaccine on 21 Feb, with the second delivery on 26 Feb and subsequent deliveries every two weeks until 32 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech is completed.
On 28 Feb, the country received 200 litres of CoronaVac vaccine, which can be processed into 300,000 doses. Today, Pharmaniaga, the country’s biggest pharmaceutical company, has in its possession 1,800 litres of China’s Sinovac vaccine, which can produce up to 2.6 million doses. In fact, this month alone, Malaysia will be receiving 712,530 doses of Pfizer vaccine.
Clearly, the problem isn’t about supply but rather the efficiency and ability of the health ministry to administer at least 73,972 doses every day. It’s also not about low vaccine registrations, as complained by Minister Khairy and the clueless Ministry of Health. At least nine million individuals have registered for vaccination on the MySejahtera application.
Khairy and PM Muhyiddin were obviously talking cock when they threatened to make Covid-19 inoculation mandatory when in reality, nine million Malaysians are ready to receive the jab, but only 1.21 million doses were administered in the period of two months. Politically, it’s not hard to understand why the backdoor government is deliberately dragging its feet.
If Mahiaddin alias Muhyiddin, who has lost his majority support in the Parliament, can prolong the vaccination process, he can extend the duration of the current State of Emergency under the pretext of fighting the pandemic. The emergency rule, which is scheduled to expire on 1 August, can be extended to allow him to shamelessly and illegally cling to power.
Would it not be nice for Dictator Muhyiddin to drag the vaccination program until the next 15th General Election, which is scheduled to be held on or before 16 September 2023? Based on the current rate of vaccination, it’s absolutely possible that the backdoor premier can rule until the Parliament is automatically dissolved on 16 July 2023, if a snap election is not called earlier.
There’s another reason to slow down the vaccination exercise but create a smokescreen by blaming the people. Almost every single minister in the super bloated Cabinet of 72 ministers and deputy ministers wanted to milk the cash cow. All the ministers, including the prime minister, are very “experienced” politicians who had graduated from the extremely corrupt Barisan Nasional coalition.
The Covid-19 vaccination programme is being treated like any mega infrastructure projects, where the project cost would typically be inflated to at least 300% for kickbacks. To make it look and feel like a mega project, however, it must be seen and dressed like a sophisticated construction project that would take years to finish, with unexpected cost overruns.
As expected, the vaccination project has already incurred two cost overruns in less than two months after it was officially kicked off by the prime minister himself. On Wednesday (Apr 21), the regime, armed with unlimited power, enacted a new emergency law allowing it to use a national trust fund, which is flush with RM17.4 billion, mainly contributed by Petronas, the national oil company, to purchase vaccines.
In early December 2020, Khairy rubbished veteran lawmaker Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s claim that Malaysia’s vaccine deal with Pfizer cost the government RM3 billion, including RM1 billion for transportation and storage. The same Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation had also rejected Razaleigh’s estimate that the cost per dose of the vaccine is RM234.
The claim that the government had used up the entire allocation of RM3 billion to cover just 20% of the population was fiercely denied by Khairy. Instead, he said – “Based on our current negotiations to acquire a portfolio of vaccines, we are still within our estimate of RM3 billion to acquire enough doses to cover 70% of our population”. In fact, Khairy confirmed in Nov 2020 that Pfizer vaccine will be priced at less than RM100 per dose.
Under the COVAX facility, Malaysia was offered a maximum price set for the Covid-19 vaccine at “US$21 (RM87.50) each”. Interestingly, in mid-March this year, PM Muhyiddin announced that the allocation for the Covid-19 immunisation programme would be increased from RM3 billion to RM5 billion to reach herd immunity status faster by December, instead of February 2022.
Does it make sense to splash additional RM2 billion (or 67% more than the initial cost of RM3 billion) just to speed up the vaccination exercise by a mere two months? Fine, let’s assume Khairy failed his Math and made some mistakes in his calculations in Nov 2020, but in order not to lose face he made the correction and quietly asked for RM5 billion some five months later.
Stunningly, in just a month, the regime unilaterally passed a new emergency law to raid and rapes the national trust fund of RM17.4 billion. Including the RM5 billion, the dictatorship of Muhyiddin could wipe out RM22.4 billion for the “procurement of vaccines and any expenditure incurred in relation to the vaccines”. Thanks to the State of Emergency, nobody knows how the trust fund would be used.
Assuming the worst, it would mean a dose of vaccine would cost RM829 (27 million doses) or RM414 (54 million doses) to fully vaccinate 80% of the population. Regardless how you calculate, it appears the price for each dose of vaccine is higher than RM100 a pop. This also means Razaleigh was right after all when he estimated the cost per dose of the vaccine was RM234.
Indeed, the Covid-19 vaccination programme is a cash cow waiting to be milked by corrupt leaders. Not only the government monopolises the purchase of vaccines without involving the private sector, it also wanted to control the supply and delay the vaccination to create artificial demands.
When people, both frustrated and desperate with the slow vaccination exercise, start to offer to pay from their own pocket, that’s when the pirate ministers would make the kill. Worse, the government could be using the trust fund to secretly stockpile vaccines to be resold at crazy profits – either domestically or to foreign countries desperate for the vaccines.
The government’s tactic of delaying and stonewalling the private sector to purchase vaccines directly is exactly like the rich nations’ refusal to waive intellectual property (IP) and patent rights on Covid vaccines to other countries to produce vaccines. Similarly, like the wealthy countries, the government does not want to lose control over the vaccines so that they could maximize the profits. – Finance Twitter