REMBAU, Malaysia, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Malaysia started inoculation with the COVID-19 vaccines made by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech on Thursday, as the country pressed ahead with its national immunization drive.
Malaysia's Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin became the first recipient of Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine in the country, receiving the jab at the Rembau Hospital in Negeri Sembilan state.
Malaysia received a batch of finished Sinovac vaccines doses from China on Monday after Malaysia's regulators gave conditional approval. Another shipment is expected later this month.
Sinovac has also inked a partnership with Malaysia's leading pharmaceutical company Pharmaniaga to provide 14 million doses of its CoronaVac vaccines, which will go through a fill and finish process in Malaysia. The first delivery the Sinovac vaccines in bulk arrived in Malaysia on Feb. 27.
The Malaysian government is planning to inoculate at least 80 percent of the country's over 31 million population in its national immunization program started in February, with 20 percent of the population are expected to receive the Sinovac vaccines.
According to the government's plan, Malaysia's vaccination program will be conducted in three phases: phase 1 for frontliners covering some half million people, phase 2 for high-risk groups and phase 3 for adults aged 18 and above with the whole exercise expected to be completed by February next year.
Malaysia reported 1,219 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, bringing the national total to 327,253. The death toll stands at 1,220. Enditem