M’sia to start COVID-19 vaccination drive early as first doses arrive

KUALA LUMPUR (CNA) – Malaysia moved up its COVID-19 inoculation drive by two days as the first batch of vaccines arrived in the Southeast Asian nation yesterday.

Malaysia aims to vaccinate at least 80 per cent of its 32 million people within a year as it pushes to revive an economy that, slammed by coronavirus-related curbs, recorded its worst slump in over two decades in 2020.

It has imposed more lockdowns this year amid a fresh wave of coronavirus infections. The country has recorded 280,272 cases and 1,051 deaths.

A total of 312,390 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were delivered to Malaysia yesterday morning, with more expected in coming weeks.

“The second delivery will be made on February 26, and we will continue to receive (Pfizer) deliveries every two weeks until it is completed,” Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said in a virtual news conference.

Malaysia has secured 32 million doses from Pfizer and BioNTech. Vaccine doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech are scheduled to be delivered in bulk on February 27, pending approval from local regulators, Khairy said.

The national vaccine rollout will begin on Wednesday, earlier than initially scheduled, with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Health Ministry Director General Noor Hisham Abdullah set to receive the first doses, Khairy said.

A cargo container with Malaysia’s first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines arriving at the Malaysia Airlines Berhad Cargo area near Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. PHOTO: AP