KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 (CNA) - Malaysia will begin to administer Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday (Mar 18), said science, technology and innovation minister Khairy Jamaluddin, adding that he will be the first recipient of the China-made vaccine in the country.

In a press conference on Monday, the minister said the vaccine would first be administered in his constituency of Rembau, Pahang.

“On Mar 18 at 1.30pm, we will start vaccination with Sinovac in the Rembau Hospital. I will be the first to receive the vaccine in our country,” he said.

Mr Khairy said Malaysia has received 100,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine on Monday. Another 100,000 doses will be received on Mar 22.

On Mar 2, Malaysia granted conditional approval for the use of vaccines made by UK firm AstraZeneca and Sinovac, just days after launching its nationwide COVID-19 inoculation programme.

The vaccination drive kicked off on Feb 24, using the vaccine developed by US drugmaker Pfizer and German partner BioNTech.

The conditional approval means Malaysia will use the vaccines developed by Astrazeneca and Sinovac, but both firms - along with Pfizer - will be required to provide additional data on rolling submissions to ensure the vaccines' effectiveness and safety, health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said in an earlier statement.

Sinovac signed a deal with Malaysia's Pharmaniaga, which will carry out the fill-and-finish process for the vaccine's distribution in Malaysia, before later manufacturing it locally.

During the press conference on Monday, Mr Khairy added that 301,699 first doses of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine have been administered under the first phase of the national vaccination programme.

“Today we received 83,070 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. And on March 22, we will receive another 124,020 doses followed by 125,190 doses on Mar 29 which would make the cumulative number of Pfizer doses received 1.35 million."

Mr Khairy, who is the coordinating minister for the national COVID-19 immunisation program noted that of those who have been vaccinated, the majority were nurses followed by doctors, healthcare workers, enforcement officers, pharmacists and finally parliamentarians as well as politicians.

There are now more than 320,000 COVID-19 cases in Malaysia, with 1,210 dead.