Indonesia becomes Asian Covid hotspot

Jakarta, Jul 19 (EFE) – Indonesia has become the epicenter of the pandemic in Asia with the highest number of daily infections on the continent amid a wave of Covid-19 that is ravaging almost all of Southeast Asia.

The health system of the archipelago, which on Sunday recorded 44,721 new infections and 1,093 deaths, is at breaking point due to the avalanche of patients which has led to severe oxygen shortages.

In terms of number of infections, Indonesia has passed India, the main pandemic hotspot in Asia so far, which yesterday recorded 38,325 cases, and Brazil (34,126), while the United Kingdom reported 48,161 new cases.

It is feared that the actual number of infections is far higher in Indonesia due to the low number of Covid tests being carried out.

Dr. Dicky Budiman, of Griffith University in Australia, told Efe that authorities are implementing insufficient measures to curb outbreaks caused by the more contagious delta variant, adding that the oxygen shortages are due to the huge demand as patients fill hospitals.

Health care workers in Indonesia have been particularly hit by the pandemic amid doubts about the limited efficacy of the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine.

At least 218 healthcare workers have died so far in July alone, the highest tally of the entire pandemic. Some 1,439 deaths in the healthcare sector have been registered since last year, according to data from the Indonesian Doctors Association.

Indonesia, whose vaccination campaigns have relied heavily on Sinovac, has approved giving healthcare workers a third booster dose with other drugs like AstraZeneca or Moderna.

Although the Sinovac vaccine is effective in preventing severe symptoms, the antibodies it produces are reduced by half every 40 days, according to a study published last week by the National Center for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering in Thailand (Biotec).

The pace of vaccination is slow in Indonesia, with only 6 percent of the population inoculated with the full regimen, as well as in other countries in the region, such as Malaysia (14 percent), Thailand (4.9 percent), Burma (2.9 percent) or Vietnam (0.3 percent). EFE

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