KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is expected to receive the first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines on Feb 26, a senior health official said on Monday (Feb 1).
In November, Malaysia announced it had agreed to buy 12.8 million doses of the vaccine, jointly developed by the US drugmaker Pfizer and and German partner BioNTech.
Under the deal, the pharmaceutical giant will deliver the first one million doses in the first quarter of 2021, with 1.7 million, 5.8 million and 4.3 million doses to follow in subsequent quarters.
Once delivered, the first batch of vaccines will be distributed nationwide over a period of one to two weeks, said health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah at the end of a COVID-19 Emergency Management Technical Committee meeting.
In January, Malaysia signed a second deal with Pfizer to secure an additional 12.2 million doses of their vaccine.
The Southeast Asian nation also signed agreements to secure 18.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines produced by Russia's Gamaleya Research Institute and China's Sinovac.
MORE THAN 4,000 NEW CASES
Malaysia has been struggling with a sharp spike in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, as the cumulative total hit 219,173 cases and 770 deaths as of Monday.
There were 4,214 new COVID-19 cases and 10 new deaths reported on Monday, with 4,280 patients discharged after recovering from the illness.
Most of the cases were in Selangor and Johor, with each registering more than 1,000 new infections. Kuala Lumpur added 702 cases to its tally.
Commentary: Frustrated with tightened COVID-19 restrictions, Johor residents hope this MCO is the last
All the other regions in Malaysia reported new cases except Perlis.
Targeted workplace screening, close contact screening and high-risk group screening have been conducted on a large scale in several states.
SPIKE IN CASES DUE TO LATE REPORTING
In a statement on Sunday, Dr Noor Hisham said that the sharp increase in the number of daily cases, exceeding 5,000 for three consecutive days, was due to the late reporting of cases to the authorities. Among those that were reported late were cases detected in 2020.
“What we see is private laboratories, when they get the results they have to include the results in the public health information system, so if there is a delay in entering the data, then we will receive the data late,” said Dr Noor Hisham on Monday.
He expressed hope that the late reporting would be resolved within a week, saying that private clinics and hospitals should be able to report positive cases as soon as possible or before noon every day.
READ: Singapore to suspend reciprocal green lane arrangements with Malaysia, Germany and South Korea for 3 months
Dr Noor Hisham said 141 volunteers have received injections in the Phase 3 clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine developed and sponsored by China’s Institute of Medical Biology Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.
They were among the 3,000 volunteers aged 18 and above selected for the trials.