Indonesia gives emergency approval to Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine

sinovac covid-19 vaccine, indonesia
© Lutfi Hanafi

The Southeast Asian country has become the first in the world to approve the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, outside of China itself

Indonesia has secured a deal to receive 125.5 million doses of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine, with an initial 3 million doses already in the country.

A chairperson at the National Agency of Drug and Food Control (BPOM) commented: “On Monday, January 11, the BPOM approved the emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Sinovac that has worked alongside Bio Farma.”

On Thursday, the Phase Three Trial for Sinovac in Brazil released the figure of 78% effectiveness for the vaccine. However, more complete results are due to be released today (12 January).

However, Indonesia pushed forward with Emergency Use Authorisation based on clinical trial data that suggested the vaccine was 65% efficient.

The current situation in Indonesia

Right now, there are 836,718 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Indonesia. This puts the country at the highest number of infections in the South-East Asian region, with a population of 270 million – overtaking the Philippines in October.

While being the first country in the world to approve the Chinese vaccine, Indonesia is also the first to declare a vaccine halal. The Muslim-majority population are historically wary of vaccines that may contain pig projects, a narrative that President Joko is fighting back against in order to get two thirds of the population vaccinated.

He will be the first person to receive the Sinovac COVID vaccine.

The leadership hope is to achieve mass vaccinations within 2021, creating a herd immunity and theoretically propelling the economy back up. Currently, Indonesia is experiencing a recession.

Vaccinating the younger population first

Indonesia plans to target two thirds of the more socially mobile population of the country first, with 18-59 year olds as their key target.

“We’re not bucking the trend,” said Siti Nadia Tarmizi, a senior health ministry official. He further suggested that as more clinical data was released, the exact nature of the vaccination plan could change.

Budi Gunadi Sadikin, Indonesia’s health minister, said the country needs to vaccinate 181.5 million people to reach herd immunity. This move requires almost 427 million doses of vaccine, assuming double doses will be definitely be given.

In November, Phase 1 research published in The Lancet suggested that a double-dosage was necessary to contain COVID: “However, quick antibody responses could be induced within a relatively short time by using a day 0 and 14 vaccination schedule, which might be suitable for emergency use and is of vital importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. “


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