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Vaccine availability offers hope amid hike in COVID-19 cases

Vaccine availability offers hope amid hike in COVID-19 cases


Some 1.8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses ordered from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd arrived on Dec 31 at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Tangerang, Banten, with stocks reaching three million following 1.2 million doses delivered on Dec 6.

Another 15 million doses of bulk vaccines from Sinovac will arrive in the near future and will be manufactured by state-run vaccine manufacturer PT Bio Farma, Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi stated.

In addition to Sinovac, the government has been on the lookout for other sources of the vaccines.

"Indonesia has signed a commitment to supply 50 million doses of the vaccine from the US company Novavax that used the sub-recombinant protein platform and 50 million doses from British company AstraZeneca that used the viral factor platform," she remarked.

In fact, Indonesia had ordered the COVID-19 vaccine from various sources: 125 million doses from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd; 100 million doses of US-Canada's Novavax; 100 million doses from British AstraZeneca; 100 million doses from Germany-US' Pfizer; and 16-100 million doses of free vaccine from Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) as part of a multilateral cooperation.

The Ministry of National Development Planning/National Development Planning Agency (PPN/Bappenas) has confirmed that Indonesia will receive some 370 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by different pharma companies by 2022.

"The target for the vaccine (program) is (ensuring that) 181 million people achieve herd immunity and there are reserves, so that the number reaches over 370 million," Minister of National Development Planning, concurrently Head of Bappenas, Suharso Monoarfa stated.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto earlier revealed that the government had readied a budget of Rp73 trillion for the vaccine procurement.

While emergency-use authorization is still awaited from the Food and Drug Administration (BPOM) for Sinovac’s vaccine, the government has distributed the available Sinovac vaccine to regions reporting the highest COVID-19 transmission rates.

Padjajaran University and PT Bio Farma have conducted clinical tests to determine safe dosages and likely side-effects of the Sinovac vaccine since early August 2020.

Vaccine availability is crucial to boosting confidence and raising hopes amid a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country, with a population of over 270 million.

As of Jan 4, 2021, as many as 22,911 Indonesians had succumbed to COVID-19, including over 500 healthcare workers, since the government announced its first confirmed cases on March 2, 2020.

Medical workers dying of the virus comprised 237 doctors, 15 dentists, 1,717 nurses, 64 midwives, seven pharmacists, and 10 medical laboratory officers, according to recent data from the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI).

The COVID-19 mortality rate among Indonesian medical workers has been the highest in Asia, the IDI noted, adding that Indonesia is among the top five countries in the world in terms of the mortality of medical workers.

Chief of the IDI mitigation team, Dr. Adib Khumaidi, Sp.OT, attributed the increase in mortality rate among healthcare workers to a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases during the country’s holidays and simultaneous regional head elections, among other occasions.

Protection for medical workers is deemed undeniably vital since they are at the forefront of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Khumaidi affirmed.

Hence, the government has prioritized healthcare workers, who serve as the COVID-19 warriors in the fight against the pandemic.

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With another 6,753 Indonesians contracting COVID-19 in 24 hours, the total tally of infections reached 772,103 on Dec 4, 2021.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia during the period from November to December 2020 rose drastically, including active cases that jumped by 55 percent in a single month, according to the Task Force for COVID-19 Response.

"Indeed, from March to December, if you look at the monthly graph, it has continued to increase," Dr Dewi Nur Aisyah, head of the Task Force's Data and Information Technology Division, stated during a discussion recently.

The country also recorded a significant increase during the August-September 2020 period, from an additional 66,360 cases in August 2020 to 112,255 cases in September 2020, up by 45,895 cases, or 69.2 percent, as a result of the long holidays.

A similar pattern was observed in November-December 2020. The number of additional cases touched 128,850 in November 2020 and swelled to 188,248 cases in December, an increase by 59,398 cases in a single month.

Furthermore, an increase was recorded in the number of active cases or patients still undergoing treatment and independent isolation during recent weeks.

The number of active cases has increased significantly in the last six weeks, specifically a 55-percent spike in December as compared to November.

A total of 71,658 active cases had been reported at the end of November, from 108,452 cases in the fourth week of December.

"If we compare cases during the last week of November with those in the corresponding period of December, a 55-percent increase in the number of active cases was recorded," she remarked.

A similar situation was observed in terms of the monthly national death toll wherein a significant increase was registered during the August-September and November-December 2020 period. During the August-September period, an increase of 46 percent was recorded, from 2,283 deaths in August to 3,334 deaths in September.

During the November-December 2020 period, the figure was up by 42.7 percent, from 3,081 deaths in November to 4,397 deaths in December 2020.

Aisyah cautioned that the continuous significant rise posed a grave risk in the wake of the limited capacity of healthcare workers, hospital beds, and ICU facilities.

Meanwhile, Governor of Jakarta Anies Baswedan has extended the transitional period of large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) to January 17, 2021, as Jakarta recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

The number of active cases in the capital climbed by 18 percent to 15,417 on January 2, 2021, from 13,066 on December 20, 2020.

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