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NIP goes under MoH, Mosti to focus on vaccine development

BERA: Only the Health Ministry (MoH) will handle the country's Covid-19 National Immunisation programme (NIP) from now on, whereas the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti) will focus on vaccine research and development (R&D).

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the Health Ministry, led by Khairy Jamaluddin, will handle the vaccines and health strategies to curb the pandemic.

"The vaccination programme will be handled by one ministry. Previously, we had two ministries, namely the Health Ministry and Mosti with a committee led by two ministers, two secretary-generals (both ministries) and it was tough to co-chair... sometimes there might be differences in opinions.

"From now onwards, Khairy will lead the NIP and its strategies while Mosti (led by Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba) will be tasked with focusing on the R&D for made in Malaysia vaccine. If Thailand can produce their own vaccine then we should be able to do so too," he said.

Ismail Sabri was met after attending the Armed Forces Exercise (Ex) Para Predator at Kampung Batu Boh near here. Also present were Armed Forces chief General Tan Sri Affendi Buang and Army chief General Tan Sri Datuk Zamrose Mohd Zain.

He said since Covid-19 is expected to become endemic similar to dengue and other illnesses; the vaccines are much needed and in demand.

"In case there is a sudden spike in cases, the vaccine supply chain will be affected. So if we can produce our own vaccines, then it will be much better. This has been previously discussed in the cabinet (Malaysia to produce own vaccines).

"Mosti now has to focus on developing the country's own vaccine as this will help reduce our reliance on other countries," he said.

Meanwhile, on foreign workers overcrowding vaccination centres (PPV), Ismail Sabri proposed for factories to set up Covid-19 vaccination centres at their premises for workers under their payroll.

"Factories with a huge number of foreign workers should setup their own PPVs within their premises and consider buying their own vaccines to avoid foreign workers overcrowding walk-in PPVs.

"This will help avoid the recent incident of overcrowding when foreign workers turned up in large numbers at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium PPV.

"I have informed the Health Ministry's director-general (Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah) to look into the matter so the factories can serve as PPVs and their workers will no longer need to leave the factory, and wait in long lines," he said.

Ismail Sabri said the factories can also purchase their own vaccines and help to expedite the vaccination process for their foreign workers.

"Industries that have at least 80 per cent of their workers vaccinated with two doses can reopen and I believe the cost to purchase the vaccines will not be as costly as the losses they will have to suffer if the plant has to remain shut," he said.

Meanwhile, Ismail Sabri proposed more drive-through vaccinations to be established around the country as this will not involve an enormous cost.

" The drive-through concept only requires the individual to remain seated inside the vehicle and the process will be completed within 15 minutes. There will be no unnecessary crowds or long queues," he said.

On those still refusing vaccination, Ismail Sabri said the government had yet to make it compulsory for everyone to get vaccinated and has not ruled out the possibility that it might be enforced in the future.

" If one day there are still many who refuse to get vaccinated, then we might make it compulsory. We do not want the stubborn individuals to become a problem to others.

"The individual who chooses not to get vaccinated will not only get infected themselves but also spread the virus to others. We want all Malaysians to be safe from the virus," he said.

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