Indonesian clerics declare Sinovac's Covid-19 vaccine halal

Authorities are relying on a vaccine to help alleviate the health and economic crises.
Authorities are relying on a vaccine to help alleviate the health and economic crises.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - A Covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinovac Biotech is deemed halal, or permissible under Islam, the Indonesian Ulema Council said on Friday (Jan 8), days before the country is scheduled to start its inoculation programme using the Chinese vaccine.

Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country, has three million doses of CoronaVac and plans to use it when it starts its vaccination programme next Wednesday, with President Joko Widodo due to receive the first shot.

Mr Asrorun Niam Sholeh of the council's fatwa commission told a news conference that Sinovac's CoronaVac was "holy and halal", although authorisation for its use still rests on Indonesia's food and drug agency (BPOM).

"This could be the information that could soothe the people, especially Muslims," he said.

Indonesia is struggling with the worst Covid-19 epidemic in South-east Asia and the authorities are relying on a vaccine to help alleviate the health and economic crises ravaging the country.

It confirmed a record daily rise in Covid-19 cases for the third consecutive day on Friday, reporting more than 10,000 daily infections for the first time and passing the 800,000 mark in cases, among the highest number in Asia.

It reported 10,617 new infections on Friday, taking total cases to 808,340. It has recorded 23,753 deaths.

Regulator BPOM has said it is hopeful that emergency use approval for CoronaVac, which depends on the results of the vaccine's Indonesian trials, will be issued before next Wednesday.

CoronaVac was 78 per cent effective in a late-stage Brazilian trial with no severe Covid-19 cases, researchers said on Thursday.