KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will be among the first individuals in the country to receive the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine in a bid to convince the public that it is safe and effective.
The vaccine will be first given to frontline healthcare workers, followed by those in high-risk groups such as the elderly, those with non-communicable diseases and chronic respiratory diseases, said Mr Muhyiddin.
Mr Muhyiddin made the announcement in a short video on Tuesday (Dec 22) regarding the latest development and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to Malaysians.
He said the government would ensure an immediate supply of the vaccine.
“The government expects the first supply of one million doses of vaccine from Pfizer to be received and given to the target group by February 2021 at the earliest,” he said.
Last month, Malaysia announced it agreed to buy 12.8 million doses of the vaccine. Under the deal, Pfizer 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.
Mr Muhyiddin also said the government had just inked an agreement with biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to secure 6.4 million doses or 10 per cent more vaccines, according to local news outlet New Straits Times.
"This means a guarantee to 40 per cent supply of vaccines have been secured via the agreements with the COVAX Facility, Pfizer and AstraZeneca," he said.
Mr Muhyiddin added that the government is also in the final stage of negotiations with China's Sinovac, CanSino and Russia-backed Gamaleya Research Centre to secure vaccinations for more than 80 per cent of the country's population.
The National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) of the Ministry of Health will continue to monitor the effectiveness and safety of vaccines once they are obtained and used, Mr Muhyiddin said in the video.
“Once again, I would like to invite all of you to appreciate and cultivate new norms in everyday life even after we receive vaccine supplies and being vaccinated.
“We need to adapt to the new norms because the virus is already in the community,” he said.
Mr Muhyiddin also reminded people to adhere to the safety measures that have been set and practice frequent hand washing, wearing of face masks and maintaining physical distance.