Belaga Dry Run With Pfizer Vaccine Successful: Adham

Vials filled with saline water were delivered at an ultra-cold temperature from Belgium to Amsterdam, Singapore, Subang, Kuching, and Bintulu, before a four-hour drive to Belaga, a remote village in Sarawak.

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 29 — The government has successfully maintained Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine cold chain in a dry run of delivery to the interiors of Sarawak, Dr Adham Baba said today.

The health minister said today’s dry run, which used saline water in lieu of the actual vaccine, aimed to maintain delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine at minus 75 degrees Celsius from the manufacturing site to the public health clinic (Klinik Kesihatan) in Belaga, a remote village in Kapit division, Sarawak.

“The dry run on vaccine delivery to the interiors of Sarawak was successful,” Dr Adham said in a statement.

“Belaga was chosen for the location of this exercise because MOH (Ministry of Health) wanted to evaluate vaccination capacity in the interiors. The Belaga Klinik Kesihatan is located 178km, or about four hours’ drive, from the nearest city, which is Bintulu (about 778km from the city of Kuching) by road.”

He added that the dry run was a joint effort between MOH, Sarawak’s State Disaster Management Committee, the Malaysian Armed Forces, and Pfizer Malaysia.

Sarawak Minister for Local Government and Housing Dr Sim Kui Hian said yesterday that saline water was flown at minus 70 degrees Celsius from Amsterdam (which is near Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Belgium), to Singapore, Subang, and Kuching. Deputy Health Minister Aaron Ago Dagang reportedly said Pfizer’s thermal shippers containing the saline water were transported by road from Kuching to Bintulu, before another drive to Belaga.

It is unknown if all Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine supplies for Malaysia will be delivered to Singapore for distribution here, instead of shipments flown directly from Europe to Malaysia.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told CodeBlue in an interview Monday that Belaga was chosen to test Malaysia’s cold-chain capacity because the Pfizer-BioNTech shot would be deployed to some suburban and rural communities, not just city folk.

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