The RM3 billion announced by the government to purchase Covid-19 vaccines will be earmarked as a “special expenditure” under the Covid-19 Fund.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin also said the amount, which was not formally included in the 2021 Budget, was an estimation as the final price of the vaccines had yet to be fixed.
Regardless of the price, Khairy said obtaining the vaccines remained a priority and steps had been taken to ensure an allocation for its purchase.
“The full information on this matter will be explained by the finance minister (Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz) in his winding-up speech, but I would like to state that the RM3 billion is an estimation.
“It was made based on the forecast price offered to countries and this is why we are unable to provide an accurate estimate at the moment.
“The need to obtain this vaccine will be included in the Covid-19 Fund. (It will be earmarked as a) special expenditure,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat.
Khairy was responding to a question from Chan Foong Hin (DAP-Kota Kinabalu) on the RM3 billion’s omission from the recently-tabled 2021 Budget.
Chan had also asked about the vaccine order status, as well as for a list of people who would be prioritised upon its availability.
Khairy said the government was working on acquiring another 60 per cent of the vaccine supply to meet the national immunisation target.
He pointed out that the government was committed to acquiring the vaccines as early as either the first quarter or the second quarter of next year.
To ensure the vaccines’ quality, Khairy said each would be evaluated and approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Division, and would be subject to several strict requirements.
“We will decide on a purchase only after meeting all the strict requirements.
“For immunisation, it will be divided into three priority phases. The first phase involves frontliners, both from the Health Ministry and other agencies, such as the police, army, immigration, prisons and others.
“The second group will consist of high-risk ‘comorbid’ individuals and senior citizens. The third group involves other adults.
“We are working on further details about these groups and we expect an announcement to be made as early as the first quarter of next year. Nst