KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia will get its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines produced by U.S. and German drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech on Feb. 21, and kick off its inoculation drive five days after that, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Tuesday.
Mr. Muhyiddin said he will be the first to receive a dose of the vaccine when the campaign starts on Feb. 26.
“This comprehensive programme is aimed at ensuring herd immunity in the community so that we can stop the spread of COVID-19 infections and bring an end to the pandemic,” Mr. Muhyiddin said at the launch of the vaccination programme handbook.
Malaysia has seen a sharp spike in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, after having largely reined in the epidemic for most of 2020. It has reported a total of over 260,000 COVID-19 cases, the third highest in Southeast Asia after Indonesia and the Philippines, and 975 deaths.
The Southeast Asian country has said it aims to cover at least 80% of its 32 million population within a year and has secured more than enough vaccines to reach the target.
Apart from its deal with Pfizer and BioNTech , Malaysia also has supply agreements with Britain’s AstraZeneca, Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute, and China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd and CanSino Biologics .
Mr. Muhyiddin said earlier this month that the first phase of the vaccine rollout from February to April will involve 500,000 frontline workers, followed by 9.4 million high-risk individuals who will be vaccinated between April and August.
A third and final phase will involve more than 16 million adults aged 18 and older, and will run from May to February next year.
The government has said it will extend its free COVID-19 vaccination programme to all foreigners residing in the country, but that priority will be given to Malaysians. – Reuters