When Bill Gates predicted that vaccines would only see the light of day in mid-2021, the whole world simultaneously started biting its nails, worried that we would have to live without leisure travel for more than a year.
But then the clouds parted and a bright light shone down upon us as November arrived.
Two separate vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have recently been found to be 95% effective, much higher than the expected efficacy rate.
If either vaccine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the US could start mass vaccination programmes next month.
Now, it seems that our neighbours across the border might have access to vaccines very soon too.
M’sia Aims to Vaccinate 30% of Their Citizens Against COVID-19 Next Year
9.6 million Malaysians are expected to receive Covid-19 vaccinations next year, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Saturday (28 Nov).
The Malaysian government has already signed two agreements for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines, and plans to inoculate 30% of the country in 2021.
On Friday (27 Nov), Malaysia signed a deal with Pfizer to procure 12.8 million doses for 6.4 million Malaysians, or 20% of the population.
Vaccines for the other 10% will come from COVAX facility, with whom Malaysia recently signed an agreement as well.
The Prime Minister said the country will receive the vaccine supply in stages from the first quarter of 2021.
Like other countries, Malaysia will prioritise frontliners, senior citizens, and those with underlying conditions, as they are considered high-risk.
The vaccine will be free for Malaysians.
Muhyiddin is confident that the vaccines, together with safety measures, will allow the country to curb the outbreak, which has been spiraling out of control recently.
Huge Spike in Infections
After three months of fewer than 60 daily Covid-19 cases, Malaysia has been experiencing a massive spike in infections.
On 24 Nov, the country recorded 2,188 cases, the highest daily tally since the disease landed on their shores.
This is why efforts to reopen the Malaysia-Singapore border have been delayed, just like vacations in Hong Kong.
Malaysia is currently under a conditional movement control order (CMCO), which affects 9 of Malaysia’s 13 states and all three federal territories – Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, and Labuan.
Residents in these areas can still travel to work and shop but cannot cross state borders except for work or emergencies.
Mass gatherings are also banned, and only a maximum of three people are allowed to travel in the same vehicle.
You might be wondering: why is Malaysia the only country in Southeast Asia to strike a deal with Pfizer for its vaccine?
In response, I have only one word: storage requirements.
Reader: That’s two words.
See, Pfizer’s vaccine, which was jointly developed with German partner BioNTech, must be stored and transported at -70 degrees Celsius.
You don’t have to be a scientist to understand that this is freaking cold.
It can be kept in a fridge, but will only last for up to 5 days, or up to 15 days in a thermal shipping box.
So, what about Singapore?
Well, as experts said, with so many promising vaccine candidates around the globe, there’s no need for Singapore to rely on one vaccine.
If a vaccine is indeed making its way around the world, Singaporeans are sure to have access to it.
Featured Image: S.O / Shutterstock.com