What To Know About Malaysia’s COVID-19 Vaccine Deal

Author’s presentation text: The global recovery phase of the pandemic is in progress. It is true that COVID-19 vaccines are already being distributed and will reach the Malaysian coast very soon.

A recent YouGov study found that 82% of Malaysians are ready to be vaccinated. This was announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin at the Prime Minister’s Office in November 2020.

As locals wait for these vaccines to become available, here are 7 shooting facts to know, as ypolitics.my points out in their Instagram post.

1.82.8% of the population will be vaccinated

To achieve herd immunity, 70% of the population must be vaccinated. With an allocation of RM2.05 billion, Malaysia was able to purchase COVID-19 vaccines for 82.8% of the population (26.5 million Malays).

They will be obtained from a few brands:

  • 20% Pfizer-BioNTech;
  • 10% Oxford-AstraZeneca;
  • 10% of the WHO Covax establishment;
  • 21.9% of Sinovac;
  • 10.9% of CanSinoBIO;
  • 10% of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V.

2. The vaccine will be free for Malaysians and is voluntary.

PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin / Image credit: Muhyiddin Yassin’s Facebook

It will be offered free of charge to Malaysians, but foreigners may have to pay a fee determined by the Ministry of Health. This was announced by Muhyiddin at the Prime Minister’s office.

The shooting will also be voluntary. You can choose to register and give your consent for the injection through a MySejahtera app feature which will be rolled out in the near future.

A portion of foreign workers, expatriates and other non-Malaysian residents will also be included in the program, which was announced on January 5 this year.

However, the number of people involved in these groups will be decided by the government based on the risk assessments.

If we vaccinate our people but not three million foreigners, we run a risk because we have not reached the threshold of collective immunity.

Khairy Jamaluddin, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI).

3. Children are exempt from the vaccine

For now, only the adult population will be inoculated (receiving the vaccine). Children are exempted due to the lack of clinical trials on children aged 12 and under.

High risk groups will be prioritized. They include frontline people, the elderly, and people with autoimmune diseases.

4. The side effects will only be short lived

According to data received by MOSTI, the vaccine will not have serious side effects.

“All vaccines have side effects. What is important is that they are neither serious nor harmful, ”Deputy Minister Ahmad Amzad Hashim said in an interview with Bernama radio’s Jendela Fikir program.

Volunteer receiving COVID-19 vaccine / Image credit: AP News

Some common side effects reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States noted:

  • Fever;
  • Chills;
  • Tired;
  • Headache; and
  • Pain and swelling in the arm where you received the photo.

In most cases, the discomfort caused by fever or pain is normal. The CDC has advised people with side effects to contact a doctor if:

  • The redness or tenderness where you received the photo increases after 24 hours;
  • You are worried about your side effects or do not seem to go away after a few days.

5. Approval for its use will take 90-120 days.

Muhyiddin announced that Malaysia will receive its first batch of vaccine in February 2021.

However, inoculation will not begin until the vaccine has received approval from our National Drug Regulatory Agency (NPRA) after a thorough review process.

This process can take between 90 and 120 days. This means that the first approval date is April 26, while the last will be June 14.

Azrul Mohd Khalib, Director General of the Galen Center for Health and Social Policy / Image Credit: MOSTI

But it’s worth noting that the United States has already approved emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine. It was cleared by the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on December 11, which found it to be 95% safe and effective.

This result was based on a global phase 3 clinical trial of more than 43,000 participants.

Dictionary time: During phase 3 trials, large-scale tests are conducted to determine whether the vaccine protects against the virus. Once Phase 3 has proven effective, the vaccine goes through a review process by the National Drug Regulatory Agency for mass use.

So far, the United States, United Kingdom and Canada have already started vaccinating their citizens with the Pfizer vaccine.

Regardless of decisions made in other countries, the NPRA will carry out its own independent evaluations, assured Azrul Mohd Khalib, director general of the Galien Center for Health and Social Policy.

“Malaysia has its own review process, which must be applied consistently and predictably to all pharmaceuticals. It’s important not to make compromises or unnecessary shortcuts, ”Azrul said in an interview with CodeBlue.

6. This may be the biggest logistical challenge in Malaysian history

Vaccine doses / Image credit: Unsplash

Pfizer vaccine must be stored at minus 75 ° C, which causes logistical problems. Even high-income, cold countries like the US and UK foresee huge logistical hurdles.

The UK NHS has described the COVID-19 vaccination program as “one of the greatest challenges the NHS has ever faced”.

An uninterrupted cold chain with temperatures below minus 75 ° C must be maintained, otherwise it may thaw and lose its effectiveness within a day.

But Malaysia already has ultra-cold storage capacities, such as -80 ° C freezers at public universities and research institutes across the country.

This is according to Khairy of MOSTI, who added that Malaysia’s deal with Pfizer also covers its delivery to multiple vaccination points.

7. They covered it for those in rural areas

Due to the special storage requirements, poor infrastructure will pose a challenge during last mile deliveries in rural areas.

Rural villagers may face transport problems to reach vaccination centers, especially if they are stationed in large cities.

To combat this, the government is planning to distribute vaccines that can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures between 2 and 8 ° C.

This will include most of the other brands mentioned above, as only Pfizer requires storage at ultra-cold temperatures.

– // –

It’s heartwarming to hear that Malaysia may finally see a more reliable solution to overcome the pandemic, but getting the vaccine doesn’t mean we can immediately resume our pre-pandemic lifestyle.

As Dr Noor Hisham reminded us, the COVID-19 vaccine should not be viewed as an “immunity passport” allowing people to disobey restrictions and travel freely.

Conclusion: It seems hard to believe that Malaysians will receive the vaccination for free, but if the Ministry of Health’s free vaccination program is any indication, rest assured that unless you seek treatment at private health facilities, you may simply leave vaccinated by paying almost nothing at KKM.

  • You can read more articles related to COVID-19 here.

Featured Image Credit: Khairy Jamaluddin and Unsplash of MOSTI

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Jothi Venkat

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