Malaysia to start Covid-19 vaccinations in February

Malaysia expects to buy enough supplies to cover more than 80 per cent of its population.
Malaysia expects to buy enough supplies to cover more than 80 per cent of its population.PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia will begin administering Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine as early as February, with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin among the first to receive the shot before front-liners.

The government will also procure enough vaccines to cover more than 80 per cent of the population.

"To convince the people that the vaccine obtained is safe and effective, I will be among the first individuals to receive the Covid-19 vaccination," Tan Sri Muhyiddin said in a televised speech on Tuesday (Dec 22).

The vaccines will then be administered to front-liners before being given to high-risk groups such as the elderly as well as those with non-communicable diseases and chronic respiratory diseases, he said.

The government has also signed an agreement with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to procure 6.4 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine for 10 per cent of the population, added the premier.

This means Malaysia now has vaccines for 40 per cent of its population.

Last month, it inked a deal with Pfizer for 12.8 million doses of the vaccine for 20 per cent of the population, and a pact with Covax to cover another 10 per cent.

Covax is an alliance of countries pooling their resources to ensure the equitable global distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

The government is also in final negotiations with China’s Sinovac and CanSino, and Russia’s Gamaleya Institute to secure additional vaccine supply, Mr Muhyiddin said.

In total, there will be enough vaccines for more than 80 per cent or  26.5 million of the population at a cost of RM2.05 billion (S$675 million), he said.

The government had originally aimed to provide vaccines to 70 per cent of Malaysians, he added. 

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin tweeted on Tuesday that after signing deals with Covax, Pfizer and AstraZeneca, and finalising agreements with Sinovac, CanSino and Gamaleya, Malaysia will have vaccines for almost 83 per cent of the population at RM2.05 billion. The vaccines will be provided free to Malaysians, according to a poster which he tweeted.

Malaysia is currently battling a third wave of the Covid-19 outbreak, with 2,062 cases and one fatality recorded o Tuesday.