By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Jan 29: A dry run to transport Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at an ultracold temperature of minus 70 degrees Celsius to Belaga, a remote area located five hours by road from Bintulu, is taking place today.
This exercise is to ensure Malaysia and Sarawak can hold and handle the many and complicated links of the chain from storage, logistics to administration of the Pfizer vaccine especially deep in the interior of Sarawak as Malaysia prepares for the Pfizer vaccine’s arrival.
According to Utility Minister Datuk Seri Stephen Rundi Utom yesterday (Jan 28), the dry run will not involve the real vaccine but instead saline-filled bottles will be transported at ultracold temperature.
Minister for Local Government and Housing Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian, in his Facebook posting yesterday (Jan 28), revealed that the journey to transport the saline-filled bottles at minus 70 degree Celsius has started 24 hours ago from the Pfizer factory in Amsterdam.
“From Amsterdam, it will travel by air to Singapore and en route to Subang, Kuching before arriving at Bintulu at night.
“The crucial part will be the last leg of the journey from Bintulu to Belaga by land on a four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicle to test the worst and toughest scenario,” he explained.
Dr Sim, who is also State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) advisor, hopes that the saline-filled bottles will safely arrive at Belaga today in low temperature.
“Otherwise, we will need to go back to the drawing board again,” he added.
He reiterated that all Sarawakians eligible and fulfill the medical criteria will not be left out from receiving the vaccine.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had announced that the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government will bear all the cost of vaccination for Sarawakians who are not covered under the Federal government programme.
Meanwhile, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told CodeBlue yesterday that Ministry of Health (MOH) staff would be involved in the Belaga dry run, while he and Health Minister Dr Adham Baba would be in the control room.
US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its distributor, whom Khairy declined to name, would also participate in the dry run.
Meanwhile, Malaysia is due to start Covid-19 vaccinations next month and has ordered 25 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. It will also use the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine which is easier to handle as it can be stored at normal fridge temperature. — DayakDaily