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CM: Sarawak to purchase Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine following PM’s approval

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A nurse shows vials of the Sinovac vaccine. — Bernama photo

BINTULU (May 19): The Sarawak government will purchase 500,000 doses of the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine following the green light given by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

Abang Johari said two weeks ago, he had met the Prime Minister to seek permission for Sarawak to procure its own vaccines and was given approval.

“I would like to thank the prime minister for giving the approval and Sarawak will purchase for phase 1, 500,000 doses of Sinovac and we will buy again for the second phase,” he told a press conference today after attending a special briefing on the Covid-19 situation in Bintulu.

“The state government will procure the vaccine to speed up vaccination. For Covid-19, the only answer is vaccination, but after being vaccinated there is also a need to have self-discipline.”

Sarawak aims to complete the immunisation programme by August this year, some five months ahead of the Covid-19 National Immunisation programme.

According to State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) advisor Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, only 1,124,241 Sarawakians have registered for the vaccination out of some 2.2 million targeted by the state.

The Covid-19 vaccines currently being administered in the state are from Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinovac.

In order to expedite the immunisation coverage for Sarawakians, the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) Sarawak has agreed to let AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine be used in Sarawak on a voluntary and first-come, first-serve basis by appointment.

This approach will be unlike the AZ opt-in programme carried out in other states which would prioritise those above 60 years old.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, who is also SDMC chairman said the AZ vaccine will be supplied to Sarawak with the coordination of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force and will be offered to the eligible population in the state.

He also said separate, designated vaccination centres will be set up and prepared for this purpose and they will be announced in due time.