JAKARTA – Indonesia became on Monday the first country aside from China to approve the COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac for emergency use.
Authorities are set to begin the national vaccination push on Wednesday starting with Prime Minister Joko Widodo.
Penny Lukito, head of Indonesia’s National Agency for Drug and Food Control, said Phase III of testing showed the vaccine, produced by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech, had an effectiveness rate of 65.3%.
Trials in Turkey and Brazil demonstrate efficacy rates of 91.25% and 78%, respectively.
Lukito added at a news conference that side effects, including headaches or diarrhea, affected between 0.1% and 1% of patients in testing, although none of the possible side effects are thought to present a risk to health. Patients in placebo testing also reported side effects.
The mass vaccination campaign is set to kick off on Wednesday to administer jabs to 1.3 million health workers. It will then shift focus to 17.4 million public sector workers between 18 and 59.
Widodo will be one of the first in Indonesia to receive a dose following the vaccine’s approval. The Indonesian Ulema Council last week declared the vaccine halal.
Authorities in Indonesia, the Southeast Asian nation worst-hit by the pandemic, have already begun to distribute three million doses of the Sinovac jab to the 34 provinces that make up the archipelago of 267 million people.
The majority of the country’s pending vaccine order will arrive in the second quarter of the year and officials hope to complete the rollout by March 2022.
Indonesia is currently experiencing a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases per day and has registered a total of 828,000 infections and 24,129 deaths since the pandemic began.
Brazil, Ukraine, Thailand and Singapore are all poised to approve the Chinese-manufactured vaccine.