KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 — Malaysia will be following the recommended dosing schedule for Covid-19 vaccination instead of vaccinating as many people as possible with at least one dose, Khairy Jamaluddin said today.
According to the chairman of the government’s Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF), Malaysia will be implementing the system of one dose and one reserve, whereby for any individual who gets vaccinated, the second dose will be reserved for them.
Khairy said that the vaccines will be kept in the Ministry of Health’s vaccine storage sites.
“When we receive the vaccine, we will keep the one [extra] dose for those who have received the first dose,” Khairy told a press conference today.
“What has happened in other countries like in the United Kingdom whereby they have extended the period of receiving the second dose, AstraZeneca, from one month to nine weeks till 12 weeks, because the approach in the UK is to vaccinate as many people as possible with at least one dose.
“In Malaysia, we are not taking the same approach. We will follow what the vaccine manufacturer recommends.”
The UK is using a novel strategy of vaccinating as many people as possible with one dose first and delaying the second dose by up to 12 weeks. The United States, on the other hand, administers the second dose to people as scheduled.
Pfizer recommends a 21-day interval between two doses of its Covid-19 vaccine. The Malaysian government has procured 32 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 50 per cent of the population.
Khairy also said that among the 500,000 individuals who will be getting the coronavirus vaccine in the first phase, 300,000 of them will be health care workers who have already been identified.
“Now, we are working out the appointment management system so that we can tell them when and where they will show up for the vaccination,” said the CITF chairman.
However, Khairy said that the government is still identifying non-health care frontliners to be chosen during the first phase of vaccination. He also said that the public will not be able to choose what vaccine they will get.
“Policy of the government is that whatever vaccine that has been approved by NPRA (National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency) is safe and efficacious. In that sense, you won’t be able to choose your vaccine.”
Khairy also said that Health Minister Dr Adham Baba will soon sign an agreement to purchase the single-shot Covid-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson as currently, negotiations are still going on.
The Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation also said that many vaccine producers have approached the Malaysian government in wanting to position Malaysia as a vaccine hub for Southeast Asia and other Muslim markets, due to the stringent halal certification process here.
“I have been discussing, for instance, with the Russian sovereign wealth fund about investing in a manufacturing facility in Malaysia for not just Covid-19 vaccines, but other vaccines and pharmaceuticals. So, this is very exciting because from this pandemic, we see an opportunity to boost the local biotechnological and pharmaceutical industry.”