Malaysia to speed up Covid-19 vaccinations as more shipments expected

Around 7.2 per cent of Malaysia's population has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Around 7.2 per cent of Malaysia’s population has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR – Seeking to reassure Malaysians amid rising Covid-19 cases, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Saturday (June 5) pledged to ramp up vaccinations, as 16 million doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in the next two months, and 300 more vaccine centres will open nationwide.

Malaysia’s vaccination rate is among the highest in South-east Asia, with more than three million doses administered so far, said the Premier in a special address broadcast on Facebook to mark 100 days since the vaccination drive began in February.

“Today, Malaysia’s first-dose vaccination rate is among the highest in South-east Asia. This achievement is not an easy feat because the supply of vaccines is beyond our control. Malaysia needs to compete with other countries and rely on vaccine manufacturers for supplies,” Tan Sri Muhyiddin said.

About 7.2 per cent of Malaysia’s population has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

In Indonesia, over 6.4 per cent of the population has received at least one dose, while 3.6 per cent of the population in Thailand has at least one dose, according to Our World in Data. In Brunei, the figure is 10 per cent.

Singapore said nearly 4 in 10 residents have had at least one dose of the vaccine. 

Mr Muhyiddin’s comments come as Malaysia recorded 86 more deaths from Covid-19 on Friday, bringing the total to 3,182.

The country is in the midst of a two-week total lockdown, dubbed as a full movement control order, till June 14.

Most economic and social activities have been barred and people are limited to travelling within a 10km radius of their homes.

Only essential businesses, such as food and beverage services and banking, are allowed.

Malaysia has so far approved three vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and AstraZeneca.

Mr Muhyiddin assured the people that the rate of vaccination will be stepped up.

“In the next two months, we will receive around 16 million Covid-19 vaccine doses. With the increase in vaccine supply, the government is targeting daily vaccinations to reach 150,000 this month and the figure will continue to rise,” he said.

Three hundred more vaccine centres will open “as soon as possible” to add to the 280 presently operating, and by the end of June, 1,000 private clinics will be authorised to administer the vaccine, he added.

Nine states will also deploy mobile vaccination units.

There have been complaints that many have yet to receive their vaccination appointments, long queues and lack of physical distancing at vaccination centres, under-dosing of vaccines, and errors in appointment details.

The government is also considering a proposal to allow for automatic registration.

Currently, those who wish to be vaccinated have to sign up to get an appointment.

Nearly 13 million people have registered so far.

Mr Muhyiddin remains optimistic that the country will meet the target of having 80 per cent of the 32 million population inoculated before the end of this year.

As part of efforts to control infection numbers, Kuala Lumpur kicked off a free mass Covid-19 screening exercise on Saturday for residents of densely populated public housing apartments in the capital, with 300 tests a day.

Malaysia recorded 7,452 cases on Saturday, down from 7,748 on Friday, and 109 deaths. There are now a total of 610,574 cases and 3,291 deaths.

Health Minister Adham Baba revealed on Thursday that if the movement control order had not been imposed, the healthcare system would have collapsed in just days. 

May 29 saw a record 9,020 infections, the highest since the start of the pandemic.  

“The cases would have continued to surge past the response capacity of our healthcare system, which is 13,000 cases,” said Dr Adham.

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said on Monday that expediting the vaccination programme would help boost economic recovery, calling it Malaysia’s “exit strategy”. 

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