Sinovac declared halal, rolling out Wednesday . . .
Indonesia has granted emergency approval to China’s Sinovac vaccine, CoronaVac, becoming the first country outside of China to do so. Indonesia’s late-stage human trial of CoronaVac found that the vaccine was 65.3 per cent effective. This efficacy rate is markedly lower than rates found in Brazil’s CoronaVac trial (78%) and Turkey’s CoronaVac trial (91.25%). Monday’s emergency approval came days after the Indonesian Ulema Council (Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body) declared Sinovac’s vaccine halal, alleviating concerns in the Muslim-majority country about the use of pork products in the vaccine. With the Sinovac vaccine now approved, Indonesia’s vaccine campaign will begin tomorrow and hopefully help manage its “out of control” COVID-19 situation.
Prioritizing working-age population . . .
Indonesia has received three million doses of CoronaVac and expects to acquire 122.5 million more in the coming weeks, with the goal of vaccinating 181 million of Indonesia’s 270 million people within 12 months. Indonesia also has orders for doses from AstraZeneca, Novavax, Pfizer, and COVAX/GAVI, none of which have been approved for use by the Indonesian government. Unlike other countries that have prioritized the elderly in inoculation campaigns, Indonesia plans to prioritize its working-age population (aged 18-59). The government says it has adopted this strategy to better slow the spread, citing evidence that younger people are more likely to spread COVID-19. However, others speculate that Indonesia has prioritized its working-age population to kickstart its economy, which has deteriorated significantly since the pandemic began.
Implications of an economy-focused vaccine campaign . . .
So far, the announcement of an economy-focused inoculation strategy is positively impacting the Indonesia Stock Exchange, bringing hope for a strong and fast economic recovery. However, many remain skeptical about both the rollout and the vaccine itself. Public health experts in Indonesia have concerns about how the government will distribute the vaccine across Indonesia’s thousands of islands. Indonesians also remain concerned about the vaccine itself, considering the varying efficacy rates reported and the fact that Indonesia will be the first country outside of China to administer CoronaVac. According to a recent survey conducted by the COVID-19 data initiative in Indonesia, 69 per cent of Indonesians were “uncertain about getting vaccinated.” Uncertainty surrounding the vaccine could negatively impact the rollout and any subsequent economic recovery.