Indonesia to resume use of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine after reviewing blood clot concerns

People queue to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in Sanur, Bali, on March 19, 2021.
People queue to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in Sanur, Bali, on March 19, 2021.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Indonesia's Food and Drug agency (BPOM) said on Friday (March 19) it has approved the use of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine after reviewing reports that the vaccine had caused blood clots among some recipients in Europe.

In a statement, the agency said that even though vaccination could lead to "adverse events" following immunisation, "the risk of death from Covid-19 is much higher".

"The benefits of giving the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine outweigh the risks," the agency said.

BPOM did caution against the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people with a low blood platelet count, known as thrombocytopenia, and blood clotting disorders.

Indonesia had previously delayed administering the AstraZeneca vaccine following the blood clot reports, saying it was awaiting the results of a review by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The European Medicines Agency said this week there were no indication the events were caused by the vaccination, a view echoed by the WHO. AstraZeneca also said its review had shown no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots.

Indonesia has been grappling with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Asia - with 1,437,283 cases and 38,915 deaths.

The South-east Asian nation kicked off its vaccine programme in January, after receiving its first shipment of the CoronaVac vaccine produced by China's Sinovac Biotech.

Indonesia received 1.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine via the Covax vaccine-alliance scheme this month and is set to receive some 10 million more in the next two months.