Indonesia begins vaccinating its 270 million inhabitants

Jakarta, Jan 13 (efe-epa).- Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populated country, began Wednesday a complex vaccination campaign against COVID-19 by inoculating President Joko Widodo, who received the first dose from Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac.

The president wanted to be the first to serve as an example to the rest of the population about the trust placed in the vaccine, named CoronaVac, in an act broadcast live from the Presidential Palace in Jakarta.

The president’s inoculation was followed by a minister and other authorities, such as the Chief of Police, Idham Azis, and of the Army, Hadi Tjahjanto, or the director of the Medical Association, Daeng M. Faqih, among others.

However, cabinet members such as Vice President Ma’ruf Amin, 77, will not be vaccinated until authorities gather more data on the drug’s effectiveness in people over 59 years of age.

These first vaccinations mark the beginning of the first phase of the campaign that prioritizes administering the doses in 1.46 million health workers, to later continue with another 17.4 million public workers between 18 and 59 years old.

In April, and already with the drug from Pfizer and AstraZeneca, the vaccination of 21.5 million older people will begin, Health Minister Budi Gunadi said Tuesday in front of Parliament.

Authorities have begun to distribute 3 million received doses of the Sinovac vaccine among the 34 provinces of the archipelago.

Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country in the world with about 270 million inhabitants, with a vast territory made up of more than 17,000 islands (6,000 of them inhabited), faces significant challenges to distribute the vaccine nationwide.

The Health Minister said distribution in some provinces could not yet be assured “because the storage capacity of the cold chain is not enough.”

Indonesia, the country with the largest number of Muslims in the world, is the first to authorize the use of the Sinovac vaccine, which according to clinical tests carried out in the country itself has shown an effectiveness of 65.3 percent and has been certified as halal (suitable for Muslims).

The country expects to receive most of the vaccines, which will be free, throughout the second half of the year and, according to its initial plans, it plans to complete the inoculation of two thirds of its population, 181.5 million people, by March of 2022.

Indonesia, the Southeast Asian country most affected by COVID-19, registered a sharp increase in the number of daily confirmed cases and has accumulated more than 840,000 infections since the beginning of the pandemic, including some 24,500 deaths.

In addition to the Chinese pharmaceutical company, Indonesia has signed purchase agreements with Pfizer and AstraZeneca to purchase a total of almost 330 million vaccines. EFE-EPA


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