More-valuable-than-gold vaccine can’t be transported by helicopters

A cargo forklift transporting the first consignment of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to the warehouse after they are unloaded from the aircraft.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Feb 25: The Covid-19 vaccine, which is “more valuable than gold”, will be transported via land to the interiors of Sarawak as it is impossible to send by helicopters.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas explained that the vaccines cannot be transported by air as there were requirements of the vaccines which cannot be met using helicopters or smaller aircrafts.

“That’s why we are using roads in compliance with the standard (operating procedures).

“The vaccines will be stored in a special container to be transported via road to the interior areas of Sarawak.

“It is very important as these (vaccines) are very valuable, more valuable than gold,” he told a press conference after receiving the first consignment of 23,400 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech ultra-cold vaccine at Raya Airways’ Cargo Warehouse in Kuching International Airport here yesterday (Feb 24).

Uggah pointed out that the Sarawak Police Commissioner Datuk Aidi Ismail will make sure that the vaccines will be escorted by the police to reach its destinations safely and securely.

“The State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) as well as the District and Resident Offices in Sarawak are now working closely with the State Health Department to prepare the logistics to make sure people in rural and interior of Sarawak will receive the Covid-19 vaccines,” he said.

Uggah, who is also SDMC chairman, has thus called for patience as the vaccination will involve a tedious process requiring proper planning, huge manpower as well as resources.

“Chief Minister (Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg) has approved RM30 million for the logistic arrangement of the vaccines across the State.

“As you know, some of the vaccines will have to be sent very far into the interior,” he said.
With the experience in managing crisis and disaster, Uggah hopes that SDMC will be able to face this challenge as this will be the greatest exercise to be undertaken thus far.

“Our plan is to vaccinate 2.2 million of Sarawakians and non-Sarawakians residing in Sarawak.
“We hope to be able to complete this (the vaccination) by August. (It is a) very ambitious plan so we are working out to make sure the plan can be achieved,” he emphasised.

With the arrival of the vaccines in Sarawak, the highly anticipated State vaccine rollout will begin tomorrow (Feb 26), or a day earlier than previously scheduled, with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg will be the first Sarawakian to receive the jab at Petra Jaya health clinic.

Uggah, Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian and State Health director Dr Chin Zin Hing will also be joining Abang Johari for the vaccination, which will be carried out simultaneously in Sibu as well. — DayakDaily