Support waiver of intellectual property for faster vaccine roll-out

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has thrown his support to Klang MP Charles Santiago in calling the government to support the temporary waiver of intellectual property on Covid-19 vaccines.

He said the move is not only important to boost supply in developing countries, but also to make sure there will be vaccine equity especially for the poorer and less developed countries.

“However, we have not heard our country’s stand on the issue and thus, I demand leadership from our Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

“This is important as herd immunity must not only be achieved domestically, but also globally.

“We are not protected unless everyone else is protected,” said Dr Yii on Sunday (May 16).

He then pointed out that the monopoly of Covid-19 vaccine productions by big pharmaceuticals as well as bargaining power by rich countries have resulted in vaccine inequality.

He further elaborated that richer countries have enough supply to vaccinate their population few times over while poorer ones are struggling to get sufficient supply for their country.

“It is estimated that rich countries that represent just 16 percent of the world’s population, have secured 60 percent of the leading vaccines.

“That has resulted in a low vaccine rollout in Malaysia where those who have registered are still waiting for an appointment to roll up their sleeves at government-approved medical facilities.

“Thus, it is important that the government support such a waiver. This waiver would allow governments, including Malaysia, to authorise the production of patented vaccines without the consent of pharmaceutical companies holding the patent,” he explained.

The waiver, Dr Yii added, will enable the government to bypass the monopoly of companies holding Intellectual Property Rights and produce generic vaccines and other technologies that can fight Covid-19.

Meanwhile, he said the waiver would mean the nation’s vaccination schedules can run smoothly by addressing the current bottleneck which is vaccine supply.

“This also can encourage more technological and knowledge transfer to our local pharmaceuticals and prepare them to produce their own vaccines for future pandemics.

“We cannot forever be relying or be at the mercy of the world market in the event there is an outbreak on our shores,” he said.

He then added that with the additional vaccines, private hospitals and clinics must be allowed to purchase their own vaccines and run a parallel vaccination programme to complement the national vaccination drive.

“This is to make sure that more people will be covered at a faster rate which is important for us to achieve herd immunity at the quickest time possible,” he said.