Indonesia nod for Sinovac jab as cases surge
Indonesia’s Food and Drug Authority on Monday green-lighted emergency use of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by China-based Sinovac Biotech Ltd, as the world’s fourth most populous country is launching nationwide inoculations to stem surging infections and deaths.
Conditional vaccination of health-care workers and other civil servants using the vaccine, called CoronaVac, is expected to begin this week.
“Based on data and considering the guidance from (the World Health Organization), CoronaVac has met the requirements to get the permit to use the vaccine,” the chief of Indonesia Food and Drug Monitoring Agency, Penny Lukito, said at a news conference in Jakarta.
The vaccine was cleared for emergency use after Indonesian authorities reviewed clinical trial data from the country, Brazil and Turkey, which are all taking part in Phase III clinical trials of the vaccine.
Brazil’s Instituto Butantan said last week that the vaccine was 78 percent effective in mild cases and 100 percent effective against severe and moderate infections based on 220 COVID-19 cases from 13,000 volunteers.
In December, Turkish authorities announced an efficacy rate of 91.25 percent from interim analysis of 29 cases in a trial with 7,371 volunteers. Some 12,450 volunteers are involved in the Phase III clinical trials.
Indonesia conducted its own Phase III clinical trials of the vaccine with 1,620 volunteers. Results announced at Monday's news conference said the efficacy rate was 65.3 percent.
President Joko Widodo is set to get his first dose tomorrow in a sign of the priority placed on immunization in a country of 270 million people.
Indonesia has recorded more than 828,000 cases of the virus, including over 24,000 deaths.
Authorities in China and Bolivia have both issued emergency authorization for the CoronaVac vaccine. Officials have said that some 9 million doses have been administered in China, though the number of people being vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine has not been disclosed. Bolivia has yet to start its vaccinations.