KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 21 — Covid-19 vaccines finally arrived in Malaysia today, with the first shipment containing 312,390 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be delivered to Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Johor, and Penang.
Vaccine minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Pfizer’s first shipment would be sent to 16 vaccine storage sites: six in Selangor, three in Kuala Lumpur, one in Putrajaya, four in Johor, and two in Penang.
The vaccines from the first shipment will be flown to Penang and are scheduled for arrival at 6pm today, whereas the vaccines for Johor will be transported by land from Singapore and are scheduled for arrival in Johor Baru at 2pm today.
“In total, we have 54 vaccine storage sites all over the country, including Sabah and Sarawak. For this first shipment, it’ll be sent to those 16 sites I mentioned earlier,” Khairy told a virtual joint press conference with Health Minister Dr Adham Baba and Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong today.
“The last-mile delivery will be handled by the pharmacy division of MOH (Ministry of Health), from the storage site to the vaccination site.”
Khairy also said the national Covid-19 vaccine rollout would be brought forward to this Wednesday, with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah to receive their first jabs at Klinik Kesihatan Putrajaya on February 24.
According to Khairy, 571,802 frontliners from the health and non-health sectors have registered as of February 20 to get vaccinated. Of these, 57.3 per cent are medical and health staff: 39.8 per cent Ministry of Health (MOH) workers and 17.5 per cent comprising other medical workers, including from the Malaysian Armed Forces.
The remaining 42.7 per cent are non-health workers, including staff from the Malaysian Armed Forces, the Fire and Rescue Department, the police, Rela, the Prisons Department, the Customs Department, and the Social Welfare Department (JKM), among others.
Khairy said previously that Malaysia would receive about 1,000,350 Pfizer doses by March 29. He said today that the next Pfizer vaccine shipment would arrive in Malaysia on February 26. Frontline workers have been targeted for the first phase of the inoculation campaign that is targeted to complete by April.
Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine is a two-dose regimen. Khairy said Malaysia would stick to the recommended interval of 21 days between two doses. Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine is 95 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19, according to Phase 3 clinical trials.
Malaysia’s first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech’s ultra-cold vaccine, which must be stored at between minus 70 and minus 80 degrees Celsius, was transported from Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Puurs, Belgium, transited at Leipzig/ Halle Airport in Germany and subsequently in Singapore, before arriving at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at about 10am today.
Khairy said Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were distributed from Singapore to other Asia Pacific countries besides Malaysia.
Pfizer’s vaccine shipment landed at KLIA via Flight MH604, operated by the Malaysia Aviation Group’s cargo subsidiary, MABkargo. The transport of the vaccines was managed by Pfizer and DHL Express.
DHL Express said it worked with MABkargo to fly the vaccines in and subsequently arranged for them to be sent directly to designated facilities across Kuala Lumpur.
According to DHL Express Malaysia, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were delivered in specially designed thermal shipper packaging customised by the manufacturer. Each shipment was packed with dry ice to regulate the temperature.
Temperature trackers equipped with sophisticated GPS technology were also packed within each thermal shipper box to provide full visibility throughout the shipment’s entire journey.
“Organising their distribution to so many people in such a short time will be an extremely complex operation that we are well-equipped and proud to contribute to,” DHL Express Malaysia and Brunei managing director Julian Neo said in a statement.
Update at 4:45pm: The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation clarified that 571,802 frontline workers have registered for vaccination so far, not 271,802. The article has been amended.