KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 9.6 million people or 30 per cent of Malaysia’s population are expected to be vaccinated against COVID-19 next year, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Saturday (Nov 28).
He noted that the government has signed two agreements for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
In addition to the agreement with Pfizer that was announced on Friday, the prime minister said Malaysia has inked an agreement with the COVAX facility to get enough vaccines for 10 per cent of the country's population.
Malaysia will receive the vaccine supply in stages from the first quarter of 2021, he said during his speech at the annual general assembly of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) which was held virtually this year in light of COVID-19.
Muhyiddin, who is Bersatu president, said he is confident that with access to these vaccines and the continued efforts to break the chain of infection, Malaysia can bring the outbreak of the disease under control.
He also stressed the importance of collaboration with countries in the region to fight COVID-19 and revive the economy, as well as ensuring equitable access to the vaccine.
In his speech, the prime minister added that he hopes budget 2021, which was passed at the policy stage on Thursday, would be passed by Dewan Rakyat (lower house) and subsequently Dewan Negara to ensure that the target of extending aid to the affected groups can be achieved.
He added that Malaysia will hold a general election when the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
"God willing, when COVID-19 is over, we will hold a general election," he added. "We will return the mandate to the people and leave it to them to choose which government they want."
Malaysia on Friday announced that it has agreed to buy 12.8 million doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the first country in Southeast Asia to announce a deal with the US drugmaker after some expressed reservations over the need for ultra-cold storage.
Muhyiddin said Malaysia would prioritise high-risk groups, including frontliners, senior citizens, as well as those with non-communicable diseases such as heart diseases and diabetes.
Malaysia, which will distribute the vaccine to its people for free, is facing a new wave of COVID-19 infections with cumulative cases rising more than four-fold since September to more than 63,000 as of Saturday.