KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 — Japan has contributed US$ 300 million for the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to help the world cope with the pandemic, said its Ambassador to Malaysia Hiroshi Oka.
Of the financial commitment over five years from this year, US$ 170 million (US$1=RM4.04) is for vaccine development and US$130 million for global distribution and supply of vaccines.
The research and development is done via international arrangements by pharmaceutical companies and universities with the funding being used to support the various development of vaccine initiatives and researches, he told Bernama and locally-based Japanese media correspondents at the Japanese Embassy here on Friday.
Apart from this, Japan has also been giving full support to ASEAN’s proposal to establish the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases with another contribution worth US$50 million.
“The government of Japan will continue to support the Centre, in addition to the financial support of US$ 50 million which has been fully funded, through the dispatch of experts and the provision of training via Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) technical assistance so that it can become the core of infectious disease control in the ASEAN region”, Oka said earlier at the signing between him and Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba for the Exchange of Notes for the provision of medical equipment worth RM19 million from the Japanese government to Malaysia for the country’s battle against the pandemic.
“We sincerely hope that this grant cooperation will help the Malaysian government cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for providing diagnosis and treatment for Malaysians and that the medical equipment will be put to use soon,” Oka said.
The signing ceremony was held in a virtual environment.
The Ambassador said in addition to this latest aid, the Japanese government had also made through international organisations like the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Malaysia, contributions worth US$2 million to help alleviate the difficulties the socially vulnerable people in Malaysia were facing through providing food, PPEs, medical vehicles and ICT equipment for online education.
In thanking Japan for the assistance, Dr Adham said it would boost Malaysia’s preparedness and response capacity in his ministry’s facilities in efforts to treat and save lives during this pandemic.
He said the Ministry was also finalising and signing a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) between Malaysia and Japan in the field of healthcare that would have a significant impact on the health and social development of the people of both countries.
On the COVID-19 vaccination expected to rollout in March in Malaysia, Dr Adham said it would be done in three phases – firstly for the front liners, then for people with high health risks and chronic diseases and those above the age 60 and thirdly, for the public and individuals above 18.
“For the implementation of the COVID-19 (vaccination) program in Japan, we sincerely hope that Malaysians in Japan will be included in the program as well. Rest assured, Malaysia shall provide the same for Japanese residing here in this country,” he said.