Phase 2 of national immunisation programme heralds new set of challenges

THE implementation of the COVID-19 National Immunisation Programme (NIP) will meet its acid test under Phase 2 of the exercise when the Government targets to vaccinate 9.4 million individuals over a five-month period commencing April 2021.

Initially meant only for those aged 60 and above as well as high-risk groups, “economic front-liners” have been recently added to the second phase in view of low number of registration.

To meet its target, CGS-CIMB Research expects the Government to raise the number of shots per day to an average of 62,666 daily shots from 20,813 over the past three weeks under Phase 1 of NIP.

“We believe that a successful execution of the National COVID-19 immunisation programme will be key to lifting market sentiment and prompting investors to gravitate towards an economic recovery play,” opined research head Ivy Ng Lee Fang in a strategy note.

“We keep our FBM KLCI target of 1,759 points (12-month forward price-to-earnings ratio of 16.2 times). Our top three picks are Inari Amerton Bhd, Public Bank Bhd and Telekom Malaysia Bhd.”

Commenting on the progress of Phase 1, the research house observed that Malaysia appears to be on track to administer 500,000 of its frontliners with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by end-April.

As of March 26, 446,617 individuals or 89% of the Government’s target under Phase 1 of its inoculation exercise, have received their first dose of vaccines.

On the same date, around 7.09 million people have registered for vaccinations, representing 29.3% of the targeted population of 24.3 mil to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity.

Malaysia which started its national COVID-19 immunisation programme on Feb 24 had recently brought forward its target date to complete the exercise by two months to end-2021 from February 2022.

Malaysia started the rollout with the Pfizer vaccines on Feb 24 and expanded the vaccination to include the Sinovac vaccine on March 18. Additionally, it has also granted conditional approval for the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Insofar as stock market confidence is concerned, the constant decline in the number of COVID-19 cases to 1,275 new confirmed cases on March 26 from its year-to-date peak of 5,728 on Jan 30 is another good sign to spur the country’s economic recovery momentum. – March 29, 2021

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