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Wellness The Covid-19 Vaccines In Malaysia's National Vaccination Programme

The Covid-19 Vaccines In Malaysia's National Vaccination Programme

An official shows a vial of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus (Covid-19) in the Medical Center of the Hungarian Armed Forces in Budapest on February 12, 2021. - Hungary on February 12 became the first EU nation to start using Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus, the country's chief medical officer said. (Photo by Zsolt SZIGETVARY / various sources / AFP)
A vial of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine (Photo: Zsolt Szigetvary/various sources/ AFP)
By Tania Jayatilaka
By Tania Jayatilaka
July 06, 2021

Quick facts from Malaysia's National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Handbook on the Covid-19 vaccines that will be used in our national vaccination plan

This article was originally published on February 17, 2021 and updated on July 6, 2021  

On February 16, 2021, Malaysia's National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Handbook (which can be downloaded at www.vaksincovid.gov.my) was launched in a virtual ceremony by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. The handbook, which was published by the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee (JKJAV), offers key information about the government's Covid-19 immunisation strategy, which groups will be vaccinated first, how to register for the programme and what the public should know about the five varieties of Covid-19 vaccines purchased for this plan.

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According to the handbook, the government aims for at least 80 per cent of Malaysia's adult population to be vaccinated by February 2022 to reduce the spread of this virus. Out of the 17 million Malaysians who have registered to be vaccinated, 6.3 million have so far received their first dose as of this week (approximately 17 per cent of the population) according to statistics from www.vaksincovid.gov.my.

Currently, approximately 6.8 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated with two doses.    

From dosage to efficacy rates, here's what to know about the vaccines used in Malaysia's national immunisation plan.

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1/6 AstraZeneca

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 17, 2020 a drop from a syringe with the logo of British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. - AstraZeneca, the British maker of a Covid vaccine with Oxford University, said that net profit more than doubled last year to $3.2 billion on strong sales of new cancer drugs on February 11, 2021. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)
Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP

Country of origin: UK

Total no. of doses ordered: 12.8 million 

Type: The AstraZeneca vaccine is a viral vector vaccine, jointly produced by UK-based pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University. It uses a modified virus to deliver a small portion of the virus' genetic code to the body's cells, teaching them to produce the spike protein found in the coronavirus and build an immune response to it. This vaccine must also be administered in two doses and has an efficacy rate of 62 per cent to 90 per cent. 

Update: On July 1, Malaysia received one million AstraZeneca doses donated by the government of Japan, bringing the total number of AstraZeneca doses obtained in the country to 1.8 million as of that date.   

More: How To Prepare For Your AstraZeneca Vaccination

2/6 Pfizer-BioNTech

A poster reminds healthcare professionals that the vaccine they are using is the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine and that they should draw six doses of 0.3ml from each vial at a vaccination centre set up at Thornton Little Theatre managed by Wyre Council in Thornton-Cleveleys, northwest England, on January 29, 2021 as Britain's coronavirus vaccination campaign continues. - The US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which is manufacturing the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Germany's BioNTech, now considers each via
Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP

Country of origin: US

Total no. of doses ordered: 32 million

Type: Pfizer-BioNTech is a messenger RNA or mRNA vaccine which instructs the body's cells to produce a protein that triggers an immune response. A Covid-19 mRNA vaccine teaches our cells to produce a 'spike protein' which is found on the surface of the coronavirus. The body's immune system then recognises this protein and develops an antibody to protect against it. Unlike traditional vaccines, this type contains only synthetic components, not a live virus.

Pfizer-BioNTech boasts an efficacy of 95 per cent and must be administered in two doses. However, storage and logistics for this particular vaccine are costly as the doses must be kept in a special cold environment with a temperature of -75°C. 

Update: An announcement from the Health DG Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah revealed the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved by Malaysia's Drug Control Authority for use on those aged 12 years old and above. This follows the announcement by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba that children aged 12 to 17 years old would also be included in the fifth phase of the national immunisation programme, which is currently estimated to start in August 2021. 

On July 5, 2021, one million Pfizer-BioNTech doses arrived in Malaysia from the US government to help ramp up vaccination efforts in the country.    

See also: Where To Get Tested For Covid-19 In Kuala Lumpur & Petaling Jaya

3/6 Sinovac

A staff member works during a media tour of a new factory built to produce a COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at Sinovac, one of 11 Chinese companies approved to carry out clinical trials of potential coronavirus vaccines, in Beijing on September 24, 2020. (Photo by WANG ZHAO / AFP)
Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP

Country of origin: China

Total no. of doses ordered: 12 million

Type: The Sinovac vaccine is an inactivated vaccine, which means it uses killed virus particles to trigger the body's immune response to a virus. Suitable for those with weak immune systems, Sinovac's vaccine has an efficacy of 50.4 per cent to 91.25 per cent. 

Update: According to an announcement by Science, Technology and Innovation minister Khairy Jamaluddin, a contribution of 500,000 Sinovac doses is expected to arrive in Malaysia from China in mid-July.    

Related: Travelling During Covid-19: What You Should Know 

4/6 CanSino Biologics

Country of origin: China

Total no. of doses ordered: 3.5 million

Type: Chinese pharmaceutical company CanSino Biologics co-developed this vaccine with the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology and the Academy of Military Medical Sciences. It's currently in use in China, Mexico and Pakistan. The CanSinoBIO vaccine is also a viral vector vaccine and the only vaccine among the five listed in the handbook that can be administered in one shot (besides the newly approved Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine). It has a 65.7 per cent efficacy rate.

More: How 6 Malaysian Billionaires Made A Difference During This Covid-19 Crisis

5/6 Johnson & Johnson

Country of origin: US

Type: Known as the Janssen Ad26.CoV2.S vaccine, this single-dose viral vector vaccine recently received conditional approval for emergency use by the Malaysian government, and doses will be secured for the country through COVAX. At present, the number of Janssen doses to be ordered is undisclosed. The Janssen vaccine has been tested and declared safe to use by the European Medicines Agency and the US Food And Drug Administration. According to this report by the World Health Organisation, this vaccine was found to have a 85.4 per cent efficacy rate against hospitalisation and severe symptoms of Covid-19 approximately 28 days after inoculation.             

Related: How Malaysia Is Ramping Up Covid-19 Vaccination Efforts

6/6 Sputnik V

Country of origin: Russia

Total no. of doses ordered: 6.4 million 

Type: A viral vector vaccine by Russia's Gamaleya Research Institute, the Sputnik V shot is administered in two doses around 21 days apart. It boasts an efficacy of 91.6 per cent and is being used in Russia, South Korea, Brazil, Argentina and Belarus. Like the AstraZeneca, Sinovac and CanSinoBIO vaccines, the Sputnik V vaccine can be stored in standard refrigerators at temperatures of -2°C to -8°C, making them easier and cheaper to transport compared to the Pfizer vaccine. 

Update: On June 1, 2021, a statement by Malaysian pharmaceutical company Duopharma Biotech Berhad revealed that it concluded the execution of separate definitive supply agreements with the Malaysisan government and a subsidiary of the Russian Direct Investment fund for the supply of the 6.4 million Sputnik V doses. According to this statement, the supply of the Sputnik V vaccines is subject to its approval by the Drug Control Authority of Malaysia and other terms and conditions of supply.        

Related: Dr Amalina Bakri On Lessons From The Covid-19 Frontline 

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