Indonesian President Joko Widodo received an injection of a vaccine made in China on live television on Wednesday as health officials prepared for national distribution.
Studies in humans in Indonesia have found that the CoronaVac vaccine is safe and 65.3 percent effective. But researchers in Brazil said Tuesday that there was a level of efficiency just over 50 percent – well below the 78 percent efficiency announced last week.
Mr Joko was the first in Indonesia to receive the inoculation, health officials said, as he wanted to reassure the public that it was safe, effective and halal, meaning it was approved under Islamic law.
“Covid vaccination is important for us to break the chain of transmission of this coronavirus and provide health care for all of us, the people of Indonesia, and help speed up the economic recovery process,” Mr Joko said after his shooting. .
Indonesia, which authorized the emergency use of the Sinovac vaccine on Monday, had previously ordered 125.5 million doses from the company and smaller quantities than several others. Indonesia, the world’s fourth-largest country with 270 million people, hopes to achieve herd immunity by vaccinating two-thirds of the population within 15 months.
But there are still questions about the Sinovac vaccine, which China began using last year before human trials ended.
The company has not yet released data on the results of its tests. And the degree of efficacy of the vaccine, measured in Brazil and Indonesia, is still far below the 90 percent achieved by Pfizer and Moderna vaccines approved in the United States and other countries.
Dickie Budiman, an Indonesian epidemiologist at Griffith University in Australia, said the relatively low efficacy rate for CoronaVac should make Indonesia look for alternatives. He also questioned the transparency of the various tests and the published data.
“At least Indonesia has a vaccine as a tool to protect its health workers and prevent staff shortages,” he said. “Of course, the government must do everything possible to procure other vaccines.”
Indonesia plans to give the vaccine first to medical personnel, police and soldiers. He also launched a national promotional campaign to persuade the public to get the vaccine, which will be free.
After Mr. Joko to be vaccinated in front of the cameras, there were the army chief, the chief of the national police and the newly appointed Minister of Health, along with other high-ranking officials and so-called influential people.
Indonesia reports nearly 850,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 25,000 deaths, the highest in Southeast Asia in both categories.