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Malaysia launches COVID-19 vaccination drive as PM gets first shot

Wed 24th February, 2021 7:46am
By Joseph Sipalan
    KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Malaysia on Wednesday
launched its COVID-19 inoculation programme, which authorities
hope will rein in a spike in infections and help revive an
economy that recorded its worst slump in over two decades last
    Malaysia has set an ambitious target of vaccinating at least
80% of its 32 million people by February next year.*:nL4N2KG1HZ
    Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was the first to be given
the vaccine, developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer  PFE.N  and
German partner BioNTech  22UAy.DE , as part of government
efforts to reassure people of the vaccine's safety.
    After Muhyiddin was given his shot, officials clapped in the
health department office in the administrative capital of
Putrajaya, before a group of health workers were also
    "I am confident this vaccine is safe and effective,"
Muhyiddin said, adding that the public should have faith in his
government's efforts to break the chain of COVID-19 infections.
    The Southeast Asian nation had largely contained the virus
for most of last year, but a spike in infections that started in
September has placed Malaysia third in the region in total
cases, behind Indonesia and the Philippines.
    Malaysia has reported nearly 290,000 coronavirus cases and
1,076 deaths as of Tuesday, though new daily infections have
started trending downwards in the past week.
    The vaccination process will be implemented in three phases,
with the first expected to run from February to April involving
300,000 medical and 200,000 non-medical frontline workers -
including politicians, security personnel and welfare officers.*:nL1N2KM038
    Around 9.4 million high-risk individuals will be vaccinated
in the next phase between April and August, followed by more
than 16 million adults aged 18 and older in phase three that
will run from May to February next year.
    Last week, the government said it has secured 66.7 million
vaccine doses, enough to more than cover its population.
    Pfizer and BioNTech will supply half of the total doses,
with the remainder sourced from Britain's AstraZeneca  AZN.L ,
Russia's Gamaleya Research Institute, and China's Sinovac
Biotech  SVA.O  and CanSino Biologics  6185.HK .

 (Reporting by Joseph Sipalan; Editing by Ed Davies)
 ((; +60394929425; Reuters
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