KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — Although other developed countries as well as neighboring countries have begun receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, Malaysia is on track to receive its supply next month and is still one of the earliest countries in Asia Pacific to receive it.
Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin said Malaysia’s shipment is not considered late although other countries had received their vaccine supplies earlier by making deposit payments before safety and effectiveness data were published.
“Malaysia makes procurement decisions based on clinical trial research without having to pay a premium price or high deposit payments. So, Malaysia can evaluate the vaccination process in other countries so that during vaccination later, we are able to implement the process in an orderly and effective manner.
“Many are questioning Malaysia’s ‘delay’ in obtaining the vaccine, especially when they see that neighbouring countries have begun to receive them. I would like to clarify that Malaysia is still ‘on-track’, in fact, this schedule has been agreed with during negotiations with Pfizer last November,” he said in a Twitter posting today.
On the vaccine delivery due next month, Khairy said they would not be arriving all at once, but on a quarterly basis.
“For Pfizer vaccines, one million doses are due in the first quarter, 1.7 million (second quarter), 5.8 million (third quarter) and 4.3 million (fourth quarter). This is also the same as other vaccines produced by other companies that have been ordered,” Khairy said.
He said the COVID-19 Vaccine Supplies Access Guarantee Special Committee has planned the vaccinations according to a priority list with the aim of protecting the most high-risk groups, namely, frontline staff of the security and health sectors.
“This will be followed by the elderly and individuals with chronic diseases and then by other adult populations to create herd immunity. If you are a healthy adult under the age of 60 and not a frontline worker, the earliest expected period to receive the vaccine would be in the third quarter of this year,” he said.
According to Khairy, managing expectations is important as Malaysia’s vaccination plan takes up to 18 months.
He also assured that all vaccines have been identified as safe and effective to ensure the interests of the people and the country’s finances are protected.