KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is on the road to procuring Omicron adapted vaccines.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Malaysia was in the midst of discussing the procurement of such vaccine for new Covid-19 variants with manufacturers.
"Negotiations are starting now. We have an existing order with Pfizer and the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access (Covax) facility that we didn't use fully.
"That means we bought more than we needed, so we are trying to change the order for doses with the updated formula."
He said this time around it was possible that the expenditure could be reduced as the authorities would contra its previous order with the new vaccines.
Khairy said that the ministry would make an announcement about who qualifies for the vaccines soon.
He indicated it was highly likely that updated vaccines or boosters would be restricted for high-risk groups such as the elderly, the immunocompromised and children with health issues.
"We won't do a mass vaccination campaign as Covid's risk for those who are young and relatively healthy reduces with vaccination and boosters, so we would probably focus on this (high risk) group."
He also said that the ministry would also make an announcement on the procurement and the sum of the bookings involved once the decision was taken.
This, he said, would include the procurement of vaccines for children under six with health issues.
He said the procurement would be modelled based on data from countries that had embarked on vaccinating children aged 6 months to under 5.
"We are working on the sum. I have asked for the Public Health and Medical divisions for a projection of the elderly and seriously ill persons so we can offer the additional booster."
He said the same has been asked of their paediatric services.
"We are collating it now and then we will make the order. KSU (the ministry's secretary-general Datuk Harjeet Singh) will discuss with the vaccine manufacturers."
Khairy said the vaccines would be provided for free by their paediatric departments and also channeled to similar departments in private hospitals where immunocompromised and sick children are treated.
He said the decision to give the vaccine for free was because the number of those who are immunocompromised or comorbid was likely to be small.
Khairy added Malaysia has around 4 million vaccines in its stockpile, with some of it expiring towards the end of the year.