AFTER months of anticipation, the plane carrying the first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Malaysia at 10am this morning.
The much-awaited vaccines were carried on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH604, an Airbus 330-300 aircraft operated by MAB Kargo Sdn Bhd (MASKargo).
The arrival of the passenger-to-cargo (P2C) flight, carrying 312,390 doses of the vaccine was welcomed by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba, Coordinating Minister for the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin, who is also the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong and Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia), on its website, stated that the weather in the Sepang and Putrajaya districts for today is good, with a temperature of between 23°C and 33°C.
The arrival of the vaccine will kick-start the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, the largest vaccination programme ever in the country. The immunisation programme is divided into three phases, with the first to start Feb 26 to April for frontline personnel, namely from the Health Ministry, armed forces, police, civil defence force, People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) and others set by the Government.
As one of the earliest countries in Southeast Asia to use the vaccine, Malaysia, with a population of 32 million people, is hopeful that the vaccination programme will restore the situation in the country back to normal.
The vaccine, which has been certified effective and approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) of the Health Ministry, is expected to protect the people from becoming the next victims of the deadly virus.
The Health Ministry has identified and prepared 600 vaccination stations nationwide that include places such as health clinics as well as Government and private hospitals, with each station to have seven vaccinators.
The second phase is from April to August, for senior citizens aged 60 and above and the vulnerable group with morbidity problems, as well as persons with disabilities.
The third phase is from May this year to February 2022 for those aged 18 and above.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is expected to receive the vaccine on the first day of the programme, along with frontliners.
Last Jan 11, the Government, through the Health Ministry and Pfizer (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, signed an agreement for the delivery of the first phase of the Pfizer-BioNTech BNT1262b vaccine to the country.
The agreement with Pfizer (Malaysia) involves the procurement of 12,799,800 doses of the vaccine to be supplied beginning end of February, for 20% of the population, with each person getting two doses.
As of Feb 20, Malaysian has reported a total of 280,272 confirmed COVID-19 infections while 1,051 people had lost their lives to the coronavirus. – Feb 21, 2021