Indonesia inches near deals with AstraZeneca, Pfizer for 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines

1.3 million frontline health workers would prioritised in the vaccine drive.
1.3 million frontline health workers would prioritised in the vaccine drive.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

JAKARTA - Indonesia is close to securing a total of 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca and Pfizer, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Tuesday (Dec 29).

Speaking at his first official press conference, the new health minister said Indonesia is finalising the agreements and expects the deal with British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca to be sealed this week, and a contract inked in the first week of January for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The AstraZeneca vaccine will be gradually delivered from the second quarter of next year, and those from American pharma firm Pfizer will arrive from the third quarter of 2021, according to the health ministry.

Indonesia had earlier secured 125.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac and 50 million doses from American drugmaker Novavax.

The first 1.2 million doses of Sinovac vaccines landed in Jakarta on Dec 6 with another 1.8 million doses expected in January next year. The Novavax vaccine is scheduled to be delivered from June 2021. 

“To guarantee the security of vaccine supply, we’ve obtained it from four different sources,” Mr Budi said at a press conference livestreamed on YouTube from the presidential palace. 

“The vaccines are expected to arrive gradually in Indonesia, allowing us to inoculate all Indonesians.”

Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous nation, has a population of about 270 million people spread across a vast archipelago.

In addition to the four drugmakers, the country is set to receive several million doses of free vaccines from the World Health Organisation-backed global vaccine alliance Gavi in the second quarter of next year. 

The country needs about 426 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines but Mr Budi said Indonesia may be able to double the vaccine supply from pharma firms to around 660 million doses. 

“We have enough buffers, in case clinical trials by our suppliers fail or if delivery is delayed,” he added. 

Indonesia is battling the worst coronavirus outbreak in South-east Asia. It has killed more than 21,000 people and infected more than 727,000 as at Tuesday.

The government is targeting to inoculate 181.5 million people aged 18 and above, or around 67 per cent of its population, the proportion the authorities say is necessary to achieve herd immunity.

The vaccination programme will start with 1.3 million health workers across the country’s 34 provinces followed by 17.4 million front-line workers and 21.5 million people aged 60 and older.

They will receive the shots between January and April 2021.

In the second phase, to run from April 2021 to March 2022, 63.9 million people in high-risk areas will get the vaccines, followed by the remaining 77.4 million of the population.