KUALA LUMPUR, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines made by the Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech arrived in Malaysia on Saturday, boosting the country's capability in the fight against the pandemic.
The arrival of Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccines was greeted by Malaysia's Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong, Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin as well as the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Ouyang Yujing at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Ambassador Ouyang handed over the vaccines to Minister Ismail Sabri, who represented the Malaysian side in a brief ceremony following the arrival.
Foreign Minister Hishammuddin said on social media that Malaysia's acquiring of Sinovac vaccines is a "testament to strong ties" between the two countries.
In a press briefing following the arrival, Minister Khairy said the close relationship between Malaysia and China is crucial for Malaysia to acquire Sinovac's vaccines, which have been put in use in various countries including in Turkey, Indonesia and Brazil.
Malaysia's leading pharmaceutical company Pharmaniaga signed a partnership with Sinovac in January for the supply of the latter's COVID-19 vaccines to Malaysia, involving a fill and finish process of the vaccines by Pharmaniaga.
Malaysia started its national immunization program this week after receiving the first shipment of vaccines developed by U.S. pharmaceutical firm Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech SE. The Malaysian government is targeting to inoculate at least 80 percent of the country's over 31 million population.
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.
Produced by Xinhua Global Service