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Everything You Need To Know About The 5 Vaccines In Malaysia’s National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme

Voluntary and will be provided free of charge, here’s how they differ.



With Malaysia currently rolling out the National Covid-19 Immunisation programme, we’re seeing new information every day about the fight against the Covid-19 virus. More recently, Twitter was abuzz with the notion that previous registrations for the vaccination programme (from when the MySejahtera app first introduced the feature) had not been logged as more recent updates to the app are showing a different registration screen. However, Minister of Science, Technology & Innovation, Khairy Jamaluddin, has since put concerns over the possible failed initial registrations to rest in a tweet:



This follows the news that Malaysia has secured 66.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility and through advanced purchases of vaccines from five different manufacturers. But what exactly are you signing up for? In a handbook released by the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee (JKJAV), five different variants of the COVID-19 vaccines are listed. With these, the government aims to have at least 80 per cent of Malaysia’s adult population (or 26.5 million individuals) inoculated by February 2022. Now, each of the five types of vaccines has different efficiency rates and if you’re wondering why this is the case, the handbook clarifies:


“The efficacy of a vaccine, or how well the vaccine works, is seen through its ability to protect individuals from the symptoms of COVID-19 through vaccination. The efficacy level varies according to the way clinical studies are conducted, the type of vaccine, the risk of disease in volunteers and various other factors. Although the efficacy level varies, WHO has prescribed that the minimum level of efficacy for the COVID-19 vaccine is 50%. All vaccines approved by NPRA are safe and efficacious for use in Malaysia.”


With that being said, here’s what you need to know about the five vaccines that are listed under Malaysia’s National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.



1. Pfizer-BioNTech (United States of America)

Source: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Number of doses: 2

Efficiency: 95%

Interval between doses: 21 days


The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine that appears white to off-white and is a sterile, preservative-free, frozen suspension for intramuscular injection. Unlike some, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine does not contain any live, inactivated, dead or even minute portions of the actual virus. Instead, it relies on both synthetic (or chemically produced) components and enzymatically produced components from naturally occurring substances such as proteins. The RNA-bearing nanoparticles are suspended in saline solution and injected into muscle tissue in the upper arm. The mRNA is then taken up by specialist immune cells, which follow its instructions to make the spike protein, just as they would do if they had become infected with the actual virus. Instructing cells to generate the spike protein spurs an immune response to the virus to potentially prevent infection (through the generation of antibodies). An immune memory is then laid down, which means the immune system has learned how to defeat the pathogen and is primed to mount a swift response if it encounters the coronavirus again.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires ultra-cold temperatures of minus 70 degrees Celsius or lower, with about five days of shelf life at refrigerator temperatures.


2. AstraZeneca (United Kingdom)

Source: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Number of doses: 2

Efficiency: 62% – 90%

Interval between doses: 28 days


The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine (developed by UK-based pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University), also known as AZD1222, is a viral vector vaccine. In its development, scientists used an adenovirus – a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees – and modified it with the aim of training the immune system to mount a strong response against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). This vaccine delivers the instructions for making the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (the part of the virus that lets it enter human cells). These instructions then allow the human cells to manufacture parts of the virus to coach the immune system to fight off the invader should it arrive.

One key characteristic of this vaccine is that it can be stored at 2-8℃ (so, in a normal fridge) for at least six months.


3. Sinovac (China)

Source: New Straits Times

Number of doses: 2

Efficiency: 50.4% – 91.25%

Interval between doses: 14 days


Beijing-based biopharmaceutical company Sinovac is behind the CoronaVac, a vaccine that utilizes a more traditional method (like that of those in rabies vaccines) – using an inactivated virus (killed virus particles) to trigger the body’s immune response to a virus. It exposes the body’s immune system to the killed viral particles without risking a serious disease response. Like the AstraZeneca vaccine, Sinovac’s can be stored in a standard refrigerator at 2-8 degrees Celsius and could remain stable for up to three years in storage.


4. CanSino Biologics (China)

Source: CanSino

Number of doses: 1

Efficiency: 65.7%


The vaccine called Ad5-nCoV or Convidecia (which CanSino Biologics developed together with the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology and the Academy of Military Medical Sciences) is also a vector virus vaccine. In terms of its mode of action, the vaccine is comparable to AstraZeneca’s. It is the only vaccine listed in the handbook to only require one shot, and is currently being used in China, Mexico and Pakistan.



5. Sputnik V (Russia)

Source: Instagram

Number of doses: 2

Efficiency: 91.6%

Interval between doses: 21 days


The Gamaleya Research Institute (part of Russia’s Ministry of Health) developed the coronavirus vaccine known as Sputnik V (or Gam-Covid-Vac). This vaccine also works in a similar way to that of AstraZeneca’s. But unlike the other similar vaccines, the Sputnik jab uses two slightly different versions of the vaccine for the first and second dose. This is because researchers were worried that our immune systems could respond to an adenovirus vaccine by making antibodies against it, which would render a second dose ineffective. To avoid this, the Russian researchers used one type of adenovirus (Ad26) for the first dose and another (Ad5) for the second. The idea is that using two different formulas boosts the immune system even more than using the same version twice – and may give longer-lasting protection. Like the AstraZeneca, Sinovac and CanSinoBIO vaccines, the Sputnik V vaccine can be stored in standard refrigerators at temperatures of -2°C to -8°C.



As Malaysia’s National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme continues to be implemented, the public is advised to register (via the MySejahtera app or register online at to be protected from the virus with the vaccine. The programme is voluntary (applicable to those aged 18 and above) and will be provided for free to all those living in Malaysia (citizens and non-citizens alike). Vaccine recipients will be notified via push notification on the MySejahtera app but do note that the MySejahtera app will only notify you of your vaccination date and assigned Vaccination Distribution Centre, not the category that you fall under. Nevertheless, remember that none of us are safe until all of us are safe – Lindung Diri, Lindung Semua.



*Cover image credits: NSTP/DANIAL SAAD

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