KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 16 — The first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine will arrive in Malaysia on February 21, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said today.
During the launch of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Manual, the prime minister also said the vaccine rollout will begin on February 26.
The rollout will be in three phases: the first will be between February and April targeting frontliners, the second will target high-risk groups between April and August, and the third will be for all those above the age of 18 between May this year and February 2022.
The 500,000 people prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination in the first phase comprise health care workers across the public and private sectors, as well as frontline workers in essential services and security.
“The national Covid-19 vaccine rollout will begin on February 26, 2021 whereby I myself will receive the vaccine on that day along with frontliners,” Muhyiddin said in a national broadcast.
Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin tweeted separately that a MASKargo flight will transport 312,390 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and send it to various storage sites around the country.
Belgium ambassador to Malaysia Pascal Gregoire tweeted: “Very happy first Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines on their way to Malaysia from Belgium.”
Khairy tweeted in response: “Thank you to the Government of Belgium for facilitating our export authorisation for the vaccines manufactured at the Pfizer factory in Puurs, Belgium. We also hope to have all our upcoming shipments authorised as scheduled, Your Excellency.”
The European Union (EU) has implemented export restrictions on Covid-19 vaccines manufactured in the bloc, including Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca shots, requiring approval from the European Commission before doses are supplied outside the EU.
Malaysia has ordered Covid-19 vaccines from five developers — Pfizer-BioNTech (32 million doses), AstraZeneca (12.8 million doses, including from the global COVAX initiative), China’s Sinovac (12 million doses), China’s single-shot CanSinoBio vaccine (3.5 million doses), and Russia’s Sputnik V (6.4 million doses).
The Pfizer vaccines cover 50 per cent of the population, AstraZeneca (20 per cent), Sinovac (18.75 per cent), CanSinoBio (10.9 per cent), and Sputnik V (10 per cent). Overall, the government has procured enough vaccines for 109.65 per cent of the population.
“The immunisation program is comprehensive to ensure a herd immunity is built in the community to break the chain of Covid-19 infection and finally end the Covid-19 pandemic,” Muhyiddin said.
“In short, vaccination is very important to protect not just ourselves but our loved ones, our family, colleagues, surrounding neighbours and the whole community,” the prime minister added.
Among the potential contraindications (a condition where a vaccine should not be administered due to harm to the person receiving the vaccine) highlighted in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Manual include those who have severe allergies, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, those who are positive with Covid-19, and those who have problems with their immune system. However, the Ministry of Health will update the contraindications from time to time.
According to the timeline of vaccine supply, the fill-and-finish agreement (final stage of before the vaccine is delivered to consumers) with local manufacturers will be made between February 2021 and February 2022.
Local pharmaceutical company Pharmaniaga will be carrying out the fill-and-finish process for the Sinovac vaccine and Duopharma will be doing the fill-and-finish process for the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.
Health Minister Dr Adham Baba previously told CodeBlue that these companies must first apply for a licence from the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) for their fill-and-finish facilities for human vaccine production.
The Prime Minister also launched the website, www.vaksincovid.gov.my, which allows the public to access the vaccine manual and slogan for the national Covid-19 immunisation program “Lindung Diri Lindung Semua” today.