KUALA LUMPUR, April 8 — Malaysia targets to administer 160,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses per day from June onwards, Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said yesterday.
Khairy said that the government intends to complete the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) by December, while Malaysia will soon be moving to Phase Two of PICK on April 19 and Phase Three from May onwards.
“Once we get to June, July onwards, we will be targeting more than 160,000 shots delivered everyday to finish by December,” Khairy told a panel discussion yesterday on Covid-19 vaccine rollouts and the recovery of the ASEAN economy, organised by think tank CARI ASEAN Research and Advocacy and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council.
The vaccine minister explained that currently, Malaysia is still short of coronavirus vaccine supply and the utilisation rate of available vaccines in the country is 80 per cent, while the balance is kept as a reserve for the second dose.
“At 80 per cent, I think that’s quite efficient utilisation of the capacity that has been delivered.”
The head of the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) also foresees other issues during Phase Two and Three that target high-risk individuals and the general public respectively, such as logistics problems, manpower issues, and problems of people getting to vaccination centres.
Khairy, during the panel discussion, also gave an overview of Malaysia’s vaccine portfolio in which he pointed out that Malaysia, through the global Covid-19 vaccine sharing plan COVAX, will be receiving vaccines not just from AstraZeneca (covering 2.17 per cent of the population), but also from US vaccine developers Johnson & Johnson and Novavax.
He announced that the first deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine from COVAX will be arriving in May, but did not specify how many doses Malaysia will be receiving next month.
Khairy’s remarks were made before the European Medicines Agency (EMA) confirmed a possible link between unusual blood clots in the brain and abdomen with AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine. The European Union drug regulator said yesterday that unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as “very rare” side effects of the vaccine.
Khairy tweeted today that the Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) has taken note of EMA’s announcement and would decide if Malaysia will go ahead with using AstraZeneca’s shot in the country’s Covid-19 vaccine portfolio.
According to a slide on CITF’s Covid-19 vaccination dashboard shared by Khairy during the panel discussion yesterday, Malaysia currently has 1,100,350 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, out of which 862,445 doses have already been injected into people’s arms as of April 6.
However, the science, technology and innovation minister previously announced that Malaysia would receive 1,000,350 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 200,000 finished Sinovac doses by the end of March. The slide on CITF’s Covid-19 vaccination dashboard — which has not been made live for public viewing — indicates that Malaysia may not have received 100,000 finished Sinovac doses as promised.
Khairy previously also announced that between today and April 10, Malaysia will also be receiving 177,840 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, while millions of Pfizer doses will be arriving on a monthly basis from July onwards.
This will be in addition to the 150,000 finished doses of the single-shot CanSino vaccine arriving in April, followed by 350,000 finished doses arriving in May. Health Minister Dr Adham Baba has said China’s CanSino Covid-19 vaccine, if approved by regulators, will be used for foreigners living in Malaysia.
As CITF has expanded the list of frontline workers for Phase One of PICK to 647,398 individuals, this means that the 1,278,190 available vaccine doses in Malaysia (assuming the 177,840 Pfizer doses arrive this week as promised) only suffices for 639,095 individuals, covering most of the identified frontliners.
A total of 8,154,590 people have registered for Covid-19 vaccination under Phase Two (2,426,188 individuals) and Phase Three (5,728,402 individuals) of the national inoculation programme as of April 6, according to the slide Khairy shared.