Coronavirus: Indonesia plans to vaccinate 160 million people by end of 2021

A man takes part in a clinical trial for a Covid-19 vaccine in Bandung on Aug 14, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (BLOOMBERG) - Indonesia looks to vaccinate 160 million people against the coronavirus by the end of next year, an ambitious plan targeting more than half of the population of a nation comprised of thousands of separate islands.

The government will focus its efforts on vaccinating working people in the world's fourth-most populous country.

The plan prioritises people aged 19 to 59, who make up 70 per cent of Indonesia's 268 million population, as well as those on the front lines of the pandemic, such as health workers, police and military officers, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto said in a briefing Friday (Oct 2).

Indonesia's economy is set to contract for the first time since the Asian financial crisis more than two decades ago as the country grapples with infections that have recently climbed to about 4,000 per day.

The nation is running final-stage clinical trials of a vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech, while Jakarta-based PT Kalbe Farma is working with South Korea's Genexine on another candidate.

Distributing and administering the vaccines after they are approved will take considerable effort in the world's largest archipelago.

It will involve more than 2,900 public and private hospitals, as well as more than 10,000 community health clinics, known as Puskesmas, Hartarto said.

While law mandates that each district must have at least one Puskesmas to offer basic health care, that's not always the case in rural areas.

West Papua has only 0.73 clinics for each district, compared with 7.3 in Jakarta, according to health ministry data.

Overall, Indonesia needs as many as 370 million vaccine doses to achieve its target, with the first stage of 36 million expected to be distributed in the fourth quarter of this year, Hartarto said.

The government is working on a more detailed road map with a presidential decree set to be issued on the vaccination technique, he added.

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