Singapore got Pfizer vaccine quicker because Temasek Holdings had a stake in BioNTech, says KJ
By TARRENCE TAN, RAHIMY RAHIM, MARTIN CARVALHO and CLARISSA CHUNG
Wednesday, 28 Jul 2021
6:27 PM MYT
KUALA LUMPUR: Among the reasons why Singapore was ahead of Malaysia in procuring Covid-19 vaccines was because Temasek Holdings and other investors had invested US$250mil (RM1.06bil) into German biotech company BioNTech, says Khairy Jamaluddin.
The Science, Technology and Innovation Minister said it was likely that Singapore was prioritised by BioNTech, which developed the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in a joint venture with Pfizer, because Temasek Holdings has a stake in the company.
Citing international news reports, Khairy said Israel was among the first countries that received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last year after it paid a hefty sum and agreed to share vaccination data of its citizens with Pfizer-BioNTech.
“Israel paid a very high price and they agreed to share vaccination data of their citizens with Pfizer-BioNTech, which is an option not available to other countries,” he said when delivering his winding-up speech in Parliament on his ministry’s efforts in the national immunisation programme on Wednesday (July 28).
Khairy also explained that the reason Indonesia was ahead of Malaysia in procuring vaccines was because Indonesia is a testing location for China’s Sinovac Phase 3 trials.
“Countries producing vaccines will prioritise countries that were clinical sites for their vaccines,” he added.
At the same time, Khairy said the vaccine produced by BioNTech-Pfizer was manufactured on a messenger-genetic (mRNA) platform, which was a relatively new technology.
“The vaccines developed by Pfizer was made on an mRNA platform, which was never used before in the world,” he said, adding that there is also an absence of clinical trial data available.
Khairy said Malaysia took the ethical path by looking at interim reports and made orders after being satisfied with the efficacy and safety reports.
He also said Malaysia isn’t the only country that was late in procuring vaccines, as there are many other first-world countries who chose to wait as well.
“Australia, South Korea, and Japan also received their vaccine supplies around the same time, this shows we made the same judgement as the other developing countries in the Asia Pacific region,” he added.