The Prime Minister will be among the first to be immunised to show confidence in the vaccine.
Malaysia’s government expects the initial supply of one million doses of vaccine from US-based Pfizer to be received and administered to target groups by February 2021 at the earliest. It was further announced that Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will be among the first people to get the shot to convince citizens that the vaccine is safe and effective.
According to a report from Bernama, frontliners would be priority recipients of the vaccine, after which it will be given to specific groups, namely people in high-risk categories such as the elderly, those with non-communicable diseases, and those with chronic respiratory diseases.
Muhyiddin also announced that the government had recently signed an agreement with UK pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for the procurement of an additional 10% or 6.4 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Overall, the government has secured a 40% guarantee of vaccine supply through joint agreements with COVAX, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca, Bernama reported. The government had previously signed preliminary agreements with COVAX and Pfizer for the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccine to secure a vaccine supply of 30% of the population. The additional 10% brings up the guaranteed shipments to a number sufficient enough to vaccinate 40% of the Malaysian population.
Remember, being effectively immunised requires two injections of the vaccine, so two doses are needed for each person, with the two jabs given a few weeks apart.
The current supply that has been guaranteed will not immunise enough of the population to ensure the defeat of the coronavirus. To do that, experts say that somewhere in the range of 70 to 85% of a population must be vaccinated. The number of Malaysia’s current guaranteed doses fall far short, so the government said that there are talks ongoing now to address that shortfall.
“The government is also in final negotiations with Sinovac, CanSino, and Gamaleya to secure a vaccine supply increase of more than 80% or 26.5 million of the country’s total population,” according to Muhyiddin. If this number is achieved, it would exceed the government’s initial target to provide vaccines to 70% of Malaysians.
Muhyiddin added that the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) of the Ministry of Health (MoH) will monitor the effectiveness and safety of vaccines as the programme is rolled out in Malaysia. “Once again, I would like to invite all of you to appreciate and cultivate new norms in everyday life, even after we receive vaccine supplies and are vaccinated,” the Prime Minister said, “We need to adapt to the new norms because the virus is already in the community,” he said.
He concluded his announcement by reminding people to adhere to the three basic actions that had been set, which continue to help mitigate the spread of the virus, namely practising frequent hand washing, wearing a face mask when in public, and observing physical distance.
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