JAKARTA: Indonesia has greenlighted the emergency use of COVID-19 vaccine produced by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm on Friday (Apr 30), as the country looks to boost its vaccination programme by involving the private sector.
The authorisation came on the same day as the country received its first shipment of the vaccine. On Friday, 482,400 doses of ready-to-use Sinopharm vaccine, along with 6 million doses of vaccine from another Chinese company Sinovac, arrived in Indonesia.
Indonesia is looking to expedite its vaccination programme through a private immunisation scheme, where companies buy government-procured vaccines to inoculate their staff. Sinopharm became the first vaccine to be approved by the country’s Food and Drug Supervisory Agency (BPOM) for this scheme.
“We now have one more vaccine variety and (Sinopharm) will be used for the Gotong Royong vaccination (programme),” BPOM chief Penny Lukito told a press conference, referring to the private immunisation scheme by its Indonesian moniker. Gotong royong means working together in Indonesian.
READ: China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm consider mixing COVID-19 vaccines, adding booster shots
READ: Indonesia to restrict foreign travellers from India over COVID-19 variant
The government has said that vaccines for the Gotong Royong scheme will differ from those used for the national programme, which is currently using vaccines produced by Sinovac and AstraZeneca.
Gotong Royong is set to begin in the third or fourth week of May, according to the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce.
Indonesia is looking to procure around 35 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for the private vaccination programme. These include 15 million doses of Sinopharm vaccine and 20 million doses of Sputnik V vaccine from Russia.
Mdm Lukito said that the BPOM, Indonesian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation and clinical experts have reviewed Sinopharm’s data and determined that the vaccine is safe for people over the age of 18 with an efficacy of 78 per cent.
Indonesia is looking to inoculate 181 million people by mid-next year. However, delay in shipments from vaccine producers had hampered the government’s vaccination goal.
Since the government began its COVID-19 vaccination programme in January, only 12.3 million people have been jabbed.
BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak and its developments
Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram