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UPDATE 3-Malaysia to kick off COVID-19 vaccination drive next week

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Joseph Sipalan
·2 min read
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* Malaysia to get Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Feb.21

* To launch national inoculation drive on Feb. 26

* To vaccinate 500,000 frontline workers in 1st phase

* Cabinet also agrees to prepare special vaccine injuryscheme

* Malaysia has secured 66.7 mln total vaccine doses -guidebook(Adds vaccine figures)

By Joseph Sipalan

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Malaysia will receive itsfirst batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines over the weekend for aCOVID-19 inoculation drive that is set to begin on Feb. 26,Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Tuesday, adding that hewill be the first to be vaccinated.

Malaysia aims to vaccinate at least 80% of its 32 millionpeople within a year as it pushes to revive an economy that,slammed by coronavirus-related curbs, recorded its worst slumpsince the Asian Financial Crisis over two decades ago.

Having reported a total of over 260,000 coronavirus cases,including 975 deaths, Malaysia is the third worst hit country inSoutheast Asia after Indonesia and the Philippines.

"This comprehensive (vaccination) programme is aimed atensuring herd immunity in the community so that we can stop thespread of COVID-19 infections and bring an end to the pandemic,"Muhyiddin said at the launch of a handbook setting outMalaysia's vaccination programme.

According to the handbook, Malaysia has secured a total of66.7 million vaccine doses, including 32 million from Pfizerand BioNTech - enough to cover 110% of itspopulation.

It has also reached supply agreements with Britain'sAstraZeneca, Russia's Gamaleya Research Institute, andChina's Sinovac Biotech and CanSino Biologics.

So far, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approvedfor use in Malaysia. The rest are still awaiting regulatoryapproval.

The first phase of Malaysia's vaccination drive will runfrom February to April, and involve 300,000 medical and 200,000non-medical frontline workers - including politicians, securityand welfare officers, Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin toldreporters after the launch.

Malaysia's cabinet has also agreed to prepare a specialinjury scheme to compensate people who experience seriousside-effects after receiving the vaccine, Khairy added.

"We will also have protocols in place if excess doses arenot used. We will be giving doses to security personnel andpeople volunteering at the (vaccine delivery) centres so thereis no wastage," Khairy said.(Reporting by Joseph Sipalan, Writing by Rozanna Latiff;Editing by Ed Davies, Himani Sarkar & Simon Cameron-Moore)