Indonesia to secure Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine for private use

More than 6,600 companies had signed up for the private scheme. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Indonesia will receive at least two million doses of a coronavirus vaccine produced by China's Sinopharm for use in a private vaccination scheme due to run alongside a national inoculation programme, a minister said on Thursday (Feb 25).

Indonesia, which has faced one of the biggest Covid-19 outbreaks in Asia, aims to vaccinate 181.5 million people within about a year using vaccines made by companies such as Sinovac Biotech, Novavax and AstraZeneca.

Mr Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia's minister for maritime affairs and investment, said the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) vaccine would be part of the private scheme.

"What's fixed is two million (doses). Three million is our hope... We will vaccinate employees in stages," he told an economic forum.

The private plan has been pushed by Indonesian businesses as a way for companies to buy vaccines from the government so that their employees can be vaccinated in order to help prop up the country's battered economy. The private plan is due to use alternative vaccines from the ones currently being used and the government is preparing a regulation.

Mr Bambang Heriyanto, corporate secretary of Bio Farma, a state-owned pharmaceutical company in charge of procuring vaccines, said talks were still ongoing with Sinopharm and the vaccine needed approval from the food and drugs agency (BPOM). BPOM did not respond to a request for comment.

At the same forum, state-owned enterprises minister Erick Thohir said more than 6,600 companies had signed up for the private scheme, which some health experts have criticised because of concern it could worsen vaccine inequity. Sinopharm did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sinopharm affiliate, the Wuhan Institute Of Biological Products, said on Wednesday that its vaccine had an efficacy rate of 72.51 per cent against Covid-19, citing interim analysis of late-stage clinical trial data, without offering more details.

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