SEPANG, Feb 26 — The experience of managing the delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines last Sunday, has contributed to the MAB Kargo Sdn Bhd (MASkargo) team being better equipped to handle the arrival of the next batch of vaccines from China’s Sinovac tomorrow (Feb 27).
MASkargo chief operating officer Mohd Zulkefly Ujang said although the Sinovac type vaccine is handled differently than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with experience, some improvements have been designed that are mainly related to the process of transferring the vaccines from aircraft to trucks.
According to him, Malaysia Airlines flight MH318 with the “Jalur Gemilang” livery decoration, carrying an “Envirotainer” containing the Sinovac vaccines, will arrive at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at about 9 am tomorrow from Beijing, China.
“They (MASkargo staff) are highly motivated. They work from morning to evening, and are better prepared for the arrival of the second batch,” he told Bernama today when inspecting to the dry-run for the arrival of the Sinovac vaccines here
MASkargo is the cargo arm of Malaysia Airlines Bhd, which has been given the responsibility to coordinate the vaccine acceptance process at KLIA.
On Feb 21, Malaysia received 312,390 doses of the first COVID-19 vaccines from the Pfizer-BioNTech, and KLIA was one of the main gateways for the vaccine besides Johor and Penang.
On Wednesday (Feb 24), Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was among the first individuals to receive the vaccine, marking the beginning of the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme.
The first phase of the immunisation programme, from February to April, involves frontline staff, followed by the second phase from April to August for high-risk groups, namely senior citizens aged 60 and above, and vulnerable groups with morbidity problems and persons with disabilities.
The third phase involves adults aged 18 and above, which commences from May this year to February next year.
According to Mohd Zulkefly, as soon as the plane lands tomorrow, the Envirotainer, which is capable of maintaining a temperature of between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius to keep the Sinovac vaccine, will not be opened but taken directly to the i-Secure area to check its condition and then will be taken to Pharmaniaga Bhd.
On Jan 13, Pharmaniaga announced that it had signed an agreement with Sinovac to bottle and distribute 14 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin through a post on Twitter on Feb 19 said the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency was in the process of evaluating Sinovac clinical data.
The Sinovac vaccine has passed the third stage of clinical trials in several countries including Brazil, Turkey and Indonesia.
When asked about his feelings and those of his team in being tasked with this important step of ensuring the COVID-19 vaccines reach Malaysia safely, Mohd Zulkefly said there was a feeling of pride that could not be translated into words.
“We feel lucky and proud to be given the opportunity to contribute to the country,” he added.