Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian government has been working hard to provide all healthcare workers booster shots amid a surge in COVID-19 infections caused by the highly transmissible and deadly Delta variant of the coronavirus.

The national task force for COVID-19 handling on August 12, 2021 recorded 36,637 new confirmed COVID-19 daily cases, bringing the total tally to 3,247,715. Meanwhile, with 1,466 additional fatalities, the total death toll climbed to 113,664.

The figures are considered still high, although they have declined thanks to the government enforcing strict people's movement restrictions (PPKM) or semi-lockdowns since July 3, 2021.

Indonesia's daily COVID-19 cases had hit a record of 56,757 on July 15, 2021, while the daily deaths had touched 2,069 on July 27, 2021.

The Health Ministry has cited the Delta variant and poor compliance with health protocols as the main factors that triggered the drastic surge.

Many healthcare workers, particularly doctors and nurses, who practically have had no chance to rest as the country's COVID-19 cases have not flattened since early 2020, have fallen victim to the new coronavirus variant.

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According to data from the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI), as of July 17 this year, 1,323 Indonesian healthcare workers have succumbed to COVID-19, and more than three thousand doctors have been exposed to the virus, Moh Adib Khumaidi, chairman of IDI's mitigation team, said recently.

Khumaidi called for the launch of a movement to support and protect healthcare workers across regions. The IDI will also collaborate with other organizations, such as the Indonesian Nurses' Association (PPNI), to promote the call to support healthcare workers, he said.

"We hope that it (the movement to help healthcare workers) will become a model that could be followed by every party to support and help healthcare workers, so they can stay healthy and continue to serve the Indonesian people," he remarked.

The IDI also reported that as of July 17, 2021, a total of 545 doctors have succumbed to the virus The highest death count was recorded in East Java, reaching 110, followed by 83 in Jakarta, 81 in Central Java, and 76 in West Java.

“In July (2021), 114 doctors succumbed to COVID-19, or an increase of 100 percent compared to June,” Dr. Mahesa Pranadipa Maikel, executive head of IDI's mitigation team, said.

In addition, 445 nurses, 223 midwives, 42 pharmacists, and 25 lab technicians have died of COVID-19. Data from the National Nurse Association Indonesia (PPNI) has shown that as of July 18, 2021, about 7,392 nurses have been infected with COVID-19, with 309 suspected cases and 445 deaths recorded so far.

Thus, about 1.4 million healthcare workers have been given the top priority in the vaccination program implemented by the government since January 13, 2021, which has mostly used CoronaVac bought from China's Sinovac.

As of August 3, 2021, the nation has administered the first jab of CoronaVac to 1,600,119 healthcare workers and the second jab to 1,461,882 workers.

Overall, the government has set a target of administering vaccine jabs to 208 million Indonesians to build a herd immunity against the virus.

So far, at least 24,481,296 or 11.75 percent people have received the second jab and 51,181,322 or 24.58 percent people have gotten their first shot, mostly of Sinovac vaccine and some AstraZeneca vaccines received under the COVAX facility coordinated the World Health Organization (WHO), among others.

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With the nation overwhelmed by the Delta variant-triggered COVID-19 spike since June, several countries have donated vaccines, medical equipment, drugs, and oxygen to help Indonesia fight the surge.

Among the vaccines donated to Indonesia is Moderna vaccine from the United States (US). The Biden administration has so far shipped more than eight million doses of the Moderna vaccine to Jakarta.

Expressing gratitude to the donors, the Indonesian government has announced it will give healthcare workers a booster jab to double protection for them against the virus. The Moderna boosters will be administered this August.

The Moderna vaccines have been distributed throughout the country, particularly for healthcare workers.

"Jakarta has begun administering the third shot of vaccines to medical workers. We have set a target of administering the third vaccine dose to all medical workers at the end of this month," Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said recently.

The city administration began administering the booster doses to medical workers on July 20, 2021. The healthcare workers will be given the Moderna vaccine as the third shot, Baswedan informed. They had earlier received the Sinovac vaccine for their first and second shot, he said.

The governor expressed the hope that the third vaccine jab will protect medical workers as they perform their duties at hospitals and other health facilities.

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Meanwhile, due to the surge in cases, Indonesia's demand for COVID-19 therapeutic drugs has climbed twelvefold since June 1, 2021, and daily oxygen requirement has climbed fivefold from 400 tons to two thousand tons, according to Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin.

"Since June 1 (2021), there has been an extraordinary surge in demand for drugs. The surge is about twelvefold," he said from the Presidential Office recently.

To cope with the soaring demand for COVID drugs, the Health Ministry has asked the Indonesian Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (GP Farmasi) to increase production capacity and make preparations for the distribution of drugs.

The association is preparing for the import of raw materials for the production of COVID-19 therapeutic drugs, Sadikin said.

He said he expects much sought-after COVID-19 therapeutic drugs such as azithromycin, oseltamivir, and favipiravir to enter the market in significant quantities early in August, 2021.

"For example, the stock of azithromycin has currently reached 11.4 million (units) nationwide. Twenty local factories are producing this drug. So, actually, their production capacity is sufficient," he remarked.
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"Several domestic producers will soon increase the stock of favipiravir, including Kimia Farma, which can produce 2 million (units) per day. PT Dexa Medica also plans to import 15 million units in August (201). We will also import 9.2 million units from several countries in August. The domestic plants also plan to produce 1 million units of favipiravir per day in August," he added.

Earlier, Sadikin had pointed out that a mere 3 percent of medicines are being produced in Indonesia, and the remaining 97 percent are being imported.

"For medicines, only 3 percent are produced domestically. We still import 97 percent (of them), since out of the 1,809 drug items in the e-catalog, only 56 drug items are produced domestically," the minister stated.

Out of the 10 major medicinal raw materials, only two are produced domestically, specifically Clopidogrel and Paracetamol, while the rest are still being imported, he noted.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity for Indonesia to seriously think of increasing drug production domestically, and striving toward self-reliance in drug productions, the minister said.

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Editor: Suharto
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