dpa/GNA – Indonesia launched its mass vaccination campaign against the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, using the Chinese-developed CoronaVac jab.
President Joko Widodo was the first to receive the shot in a ceremony at the presidential palace, followed by representatives from the government, the health profession and religious communities.
“After this, we will extend the vaccination programme to the entire country,” Joko said after receiving the jab.
“The vaccinations are intended to break the chain of coronavirus transmission, protect people’s health, and support the recovery of the economy,” he added.
The country’s drug and food agency on Monday authorized the emergency use of the Chinese vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech.
The agency said the decision to issue the emergency use authorization was based on preliminary results of late-stage trials of the vaccine in Indonesia, Brazil and Turkey.
The vaccine had an efficacy rate of 65.3 per cent in Indonesia, 78 per cent in Brazil and 91.25 per cent in Turkey, the agency said.
But reports from Brazil on Tuesday said the jab had only 50.4 percent clinical efficacy in the trial in the South American country.
Last week, the Indonesian Council of Ulema, the country’s semi-official authority on Islam, declared that the Sinovac vaccine is halal and therefore acceptable for Muslims to receive.
Indonesia has so far received 18 million doses of Sinovac’s vaccine.
Indonesia also expects to receive between 54 million and 108 million vaccine doses from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Monday.
Vaccines developed by Western companies, including AstraZeneca and Novavax, are expected in the coming months.
Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country with 270 million people, has the largest Covid-19 caseload in South-East Asia, with nearly 850,000 confirmed infections and 24,645 deaths.