Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Picture: REUTERS/DARREN WHITESIDE
Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Picture: REUTERS/DARREN WHITESIDE

Jakarta  — Indonesia will begin its nationwide Covid-19 mass vaccination programme on January 13, health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Tuesday, as the world's fourth most populous country battles the worst coronavirus outbreak in Southeast Asia.

The programme will launch in Jakarta, with President Joko Widodo  set to be given the first shot, Budi said in a statement, while vaccinations in other regions will start in the following two days.

The government has previously said 1.3-million front-line workers are due to be among the first to receive the vaccines made by China's Sinovac Biotech. Indonesia has received 3-million doses of the Sinovac vaccine, named CoronaVac.

After health workers had been inoculated, regional governors should come forward to be given the vaccine “to generate confidence in the community”, said Budi.

The announcement comes before the country's food and drug agency has given emergency use approval to allow inoculations to start.

The agency did not respond to a request for comment, though it had previously said it hoped emergency use authorisation would be granted once interim data from clinical trials in Indonesia, Brazil and Turkey was  studied.

Sinovac, along with Indonesia's state-owned drugmaker Bio Farma, is overseeing late-stage clinical trials in West Java.

Early results from CoronaVac late-stage trials showed it was 91.25% effective, while researchers in Brazil have said it was more than 50% effective, though full results were yet to be released at the company's request.

Budi says Indonesia must inoculate 181.5-million people, or roughly 67% of the population, to reach herd immunity.

The vaccine will be administered for free across the archipelago, with the rollout expected to take 15 months.

Bio Farma has dispatched more than 760,000 doses of Sinovac's vaccines to 34 Indonesian provinces on Tuesday.

Indonesia has also secured more than 329-million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, most notably from Pfizer and BioNTech, as well as AstraZeneca.

Reuters 

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