The world’s largest island nation, Indonesia, began mass vaccinations against the corona virus on Wednesday. President Joko Widodo was the first to be vaccinated in the presidential palace with CoronaVac from the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech. He wanted to show the population that the vaccine is safe.
Unlike other countries, Indonesia initially wants to give priority to younger people between the ages of 18 and 59 after health care and public service employees. The aim is to achieve herd immunity quickly. The fourth most populous country on earth with its almost 270 million inhabitants is the worst affected by the pandemic in Southeast Asia.
“The vaccinations are designed to break the chain of coronavirus transmission, protect people’s health and help the economy recover,” said Widodo. The Indonesian drug agency issued emergency approval for the Sinovac vaccine on Monday.
Last week, the religious leaders of the Muslim Ulema Council (MUI) declared that the remedy was halal (“pure”) and therefore suitable for Muslims. To date, Indonesia has received 18 million doses of the vaccine from China. Further vaccines, among others from the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the US company Novavax, are expected in the coming months. By Wednesday, almost 840,000 people in Indonesia had been infected with corona. More than 24,000 have died related to the virus.