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by Karen Bong
KUCHING, Feb 3: Malaysia is expected to receive its first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on Feb 26 with the nationwide vaccination programme scheduled to be rolled out end of the month.
Minister for Local Government and Housing Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian, shared in a Telegram post that the vaccine will be distributed in stages to all the states in Malaysia including Sarawak within one to two weeks’ time upon arrival.
“The national Covid-19 vaccination programme will also start in February (as the federal government) targets to roll out 150,000 shots administered daily nationwide until the middle of the year.
“The Sarawak government has promised that all Sarawakians will receive free vaccines when they are available,” he said.
Hence, Dr Sim, who is also the State Disaster Committee Management (SDMC) advisor, reiterated his call for people to continue remaining vigilant as well as to comply with all standard operating procedures (SOPs) and restrictions during this critical period as Sarawak gears up to overcome the fourth wave of Covid-19 in the country.
“Before then, let’s continue to wear masks and keep physical distancing,” he urged.
In his post, Dr Sim also shared a chart indicating the number of people who had been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 as of Feb 1, 2021 with the United States of America leading the list with 5.86 million people followed by Israel (1.79 million), Italy (648,640), Germany (532,562) and United Kingdom (494,209) among others.
Meanwhile, in various national news reports, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba was reported as announcing that all preparations were underway to coordinate and ensure a smooth rolling out of the nationwide vaccination programme on Feb 26.
This included a dry run to transport the vaccine in ultracold temperatures of minus 70 degree Celsius to a remote area of Belaga in Sarawak last week using saline-filled bottles which was aimed at testing their ability to handle the vaccines especially to rural and remote areas with challenging geographical environments.
The vaccination programme is expected to cover 27 million of the country’s 32 million population by the first quarter of 2022.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin also expressed confidence that the government would be able to meet the 12-month programme’s target of vaccinating more than 80 per cent of the population.
Minister of Science and Technology Khairy Jamaluddin, who spearheads the special vaccine procurement committee, reportedly said the first batch of vaccines would be 1 million doses which would be enough to vaccinate 500,000 people with two doses 21 days apart.
The initial shipment will be reserved for frontliners including healthcare workers, police and the Armed Forces.
The Federal government has allocated around RM3 billion to secure vaccine supplies from Pfizer, AstraZeneca and COVAX.
On Jan 11, Malaysia has also committed to purchasing an additional 12.2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, on top of the 12.8 million doses already lined up.
Besides the arrangements with Pfizer, AstraZeneca and COVAX, Malaysia is still in active vaccine discussions with China-based Sinovac and CanSino Biologics as well as Russia’s Gamaleya Centre. — DayakDaily