KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Malaysia is set to take delivery of the much-awaited Covid-19 vaccine to boost its fight against the pandemic that has claimed more than 1,000 lives in the country over the past year.
This historic moment is scheduled to take place on Sunday (Feb 21) with the arrival of the first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH604, an Airbus 330-300 aircraft operated by MAB Kargo Sdn Bhd (MASkargo), at the KL International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba, Science, Coordinating Minister for the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin, who is also Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong and Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah are expected to be at the airport as the passenger-to-cargo (P2C) flight carrying 312,390 doses of the vaccine lands.
The weather is forecast to be fine, with the mercury reading between 23°C and 33°C, in the Sepang and Putrajaya areas at the time of touchdown, according to information gleaned from the Malaysian Meteorological Department website.
The arrival of the vaccine will kick-start the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, the largest vaccination programme ever in the country.
As one of the earliest countries in South-East Asia to use the vaccine, Malaysia, with a population of 32 million people, is hopeful that the immunisation programme will expedite the country's efforts to revive its economy and improve the lives of the people.
The vaccine has been certified effective and approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) of the Health Ministry (MOH).
The immunisation programme is divided into three phases, with the first scheduled from Feb 26 to April for frontline personnel, including from the MOH, Armed Forces, police, Civil Defence Force and Malaysian Volunteer Department (Rela).
The MOH has identified and prepared about 600 vaccination stations nationwide, among them health clinics as well as government and private hospitals. Each station is to have seven vaccinators.
The second phase is scheduled from April to August for senior citizens aged 60 and above and vulnerable groups with morbidity issues, as well as persons with disabilities.
The third phase is to be from May to February 2022 for those aged 18 and above.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is expected to receive the vaccine on the first day of the immunisation exercise, on Feb 26, along with several of the frontliners.
On Jan 11, an agreement for the delivery of the first phase of the Covid-19 Pfizer-BioNTech BNT1262b was signed between the government, through the Health Ministry, and Pfizer (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.
The agreement with Pfizer (Malaysia) involves the procurement of 12,799,800 doses of vaccine, covering 20% of the population, with two doses per person.