Russia has offered to share its expertise in making its own Sputnik V vaccine. (AP pic)

PETALING JAYA: Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has questioned why Malaysia has not begun exploring its own production of Covid-19 vaccines, and asked if enough is being done to make local production a reality.

Anwar said the government had previously stated that vaccine producers would be required to share their knowledge with Malaysia if a deal for their product was to be struck.

“Hence, it is timely to ask the government on how soon we can expect to see our own vaccine producing facilities,” he said in a statement.

“Why aren’t the local universities and medical research institutions at the forefront of vaccine development? We have produced antidotes for the Nipah virus among others, which proves we, too, have the capabilities to research and develop vaccines.”

(The Nipah virus outbreak in 1998-1999 caused 105 deaths and the near collapse of pig farming from culling of infected pigs.)

Last week, the Russian ambassador to Malaysia, Naiyl M Latypov, said his country had offered to share its expertise and know-how with Malaysia. Russia produced its own vaccine, Sputnik V, of which Malaysia will receive 10 million doses.

Anwar also took issue with other aspects to the vaccine rollout, which began in February and could take a year to complete.

“Minister Khairy Jamaluddin revealed that 1.4 million people who registered for vaccination through MySejahtera have done so in an incomplete manner. What is the government doing to address the issues surrounding the vaccine registration?

“Also, what is the government doing to convince the anti-vaxxers (those against the vaccine) to take the vaccine, since it is voluntary? Is there enough being done to allay public fears associated with the vaccine?”

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He also called for improved transparency in the government’s decision making process when purchasing vaccines, as taxpayers deserve more information about how their RM3 billion has been spent.

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