Saturday 13 Apr 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 30): The report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) regarding the management of the Covid-19 outbreak revealed that the exact cost of the 8.5 million expired Covid-19 vaccine doses totalled RM505 million.

"While the expiration date had been extended up to 18 months from the production date of the Covid-19 vaccine, as of June 1, 2023, 8.5 million vaccine doses worth RM505 million had still expired," read the report, which was published on the official Parliament website on Monday.

The report states that the Ministry of Health (MOH) procured vaccines based on projected demand, resulting in an excess of vaccines due to decreased vaccination demand, delays in receiving vaccine supplies, and donations from foreign countries.

In total, Malaysia received 82.85 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccines up until April 2022, based on a forecast of 83.3 million doses required by the population. 

This includes 51.8 million doses required across 80% of the population to achieve herd immunity, combined with 31.5 million doses of booster shots for adults (two doses) and adolescents (one dose). 

To reduce the wastage from expired vaccines, Malaysia provided 1.89 million doses to other countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and also took steps to promote booster shots and improve public access for them, the report said. 

According to the report, due to the global shortage of medical equipment at the time, the country had to undertake emergency procurement of vaccines, ventilators, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other essential supplies to combat the Covid-19 epidemic.

"At that time, the world faced a crisis of medical equipment shortages, prompting a scramble to secure supplies. Failure to make immediate decisions would have denied the country essential supplies and potentially led to a loss of life," the report added.

The report also revealed that, given the exceptional circumstances during the movement control order (MCO) and the pressing urgency of the situation, deliberations, assessments, and procurement decisions for ventilators were conducted using the WhatsApp application, bypassing standard procedures.

"Despite lacking experience and expertise in medical equipment procurement such as ventilators, Pharmaniaga Logistics Sdn Bhd (PLSB) was instructed to make advance payments for ventilators due to their existing relationship with the MOH. However, the absence of a written agreement between MOH and PLSB resulted in no party being held accountable for the malfunction of 104 ventilator units. To date, the uncertainty surrounding PLSB's role has hindered legal action," the report stated.

The report also identified a discrepancy between MOH and PLSB regarding the warranty status of all 136 ventilator units. While PLSB's quotation document indicated a warranty, it did not cover all 136 units and lacked proper documentation.

Regarding PPE, the report noted that most PPE could be used before expiry, with only 850,000 boot covers at risk of expiring at the end of 2024, valued at RM927,000 if unused.

"However, if the amount of this stock can be reduced then the value of the loss to MOH will also be reduced," the report added.

Therefore, the PAC recommended that the MOH ensures excess PPE is utilised before expiration and takes immediate action to verify the warranty status of all 136 ventilator units.

Additionally, the PAC suggested that the government plays a role in promoting the local production of medical equipment and pharmaceuticals to reduce dependence on foreign countries and strengthen the public healthcare system.

"In light of the lessons learned, the control officer must ensure that public interest is safeguarded during emergency procurement. Even in emergencies, documentation must be handled with due diligence," the PAC added.

Edited BySurin Murugiah
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