PETALING JAYA: The country will receive one million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in its first phase to inoculate Malaysians, says Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
The one million doses, he said, would be enough for 500,000 people as each individual would be receiving two doses, 21 days apart.
“The first in line to receive the vaccine will be the frontliners consisting of 300,000 healthcare workers, who have been identified by the Health Ministry, and 200,000 non-healthcare workers such as the police, army and others who are involved in frontline tasks, ” he said in an interview with Astro Awani last night.
He also said the government had identified 600 centres nationwide to conduct the vaccination process.
This will consist of the Health Ministry and government facilities or public areas such as stadiums or multipurpose halls, which will be converted into temporary vaccination facilities.
He said they had deduced that they would require 7,200 healthcare workers to conduct the vaccination.
“I am looking at a timeline of less than 18 months to inoculate 70% to 80% of the population consisting of not just Malaysians but also foreign workers who make up the important clusters, ” he added.
He also said phase two of the vaccination process would be carried out in the second quarter of the year, adding that this would consist of three million senior citizens and 3.2 million people who have co-morbidities.
The third phase, he noted, would be for the general population.
“I expect this to be carried out in the third quarter of the year provided that the plans to complete all the additional agreements with the companies in China and Russia are done, ” he said.
During the interview, Khairy also said the government ordered 55 ultra-low freezers to store the vaccines, adding that the 55 locations to place them had also been identified.
He assured the public that the vaccines would be given free.
In the 600 vaccination centres that the government had identified, Khairy said there might be private clinics or hospitals which would be involved in the process.
“Whoever is asked to go to the private clinics or hospitals to be vaccinated, the government will bear the cost there.”
In regard to the private market, he said he understood that there would be private clinics or hospitals which will be able to purchase directly from the manufacturer.
As such, it would be up to the people if they want to expedite their vaccination process by purchasing the vaccines on their own, he said.
“But I believe this year there may not be supplies for the private market as most of the vaccines are being sold only to governments.”
Earlier yesterday, Khairy tweeted that the Health Ministry’s National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) has given a conditional registration for the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.
He said he was informed of this by Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
“We are still waiting for some additional information from Pfizer but this means it can be used in Malaysia, ” he wrote on Twitter.
It was reported that NPRA had received a formal application from Pfizer on Dec 15 to have its Covid-19 vaccine registered in Malaysia.
Last year, the government announced that it would be obtaining 12.8 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer and German firm BioNTech.
The amount is said to cover 6.4 million people or 20% of the Malaysian population.