AstraZeneca vaccine cleared for emergency use in Indonesia


INDONESIA cleared AstraZeneca Plc’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use, a second shot made available by the government to bolster its inoculation drive amid concern over an influx of new virus variants.

“We need to accelerate the vaccination program to achieve herd immunity as soon as possible,” Penny Lukito, head of the country’s food and drug regulator said in a virtual briefing Tuesday. The office, known as BPOM, first granted approval for Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s vaccine in January.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy expanded movement restrictions to three provinces starting next week to curb the pandemic spread, while trying to recover an economy that last year contracted for the first time in two decades. Nearly 1.4 million people tested positive for Covid-19 so far, including six confirmed cases of the U.K. Covid variant. More than 35,000 have died from the virus, according to the latest data on March 8.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is deemed safe for people aged above 18 years old, as well as elderly, with an efficacy rate after the second dosage of 62.1%, Lukito said. BPOM, she added, is currently assessing an emergency approval for Moderna Inc. vaccine through a rolling submission, as the country sought to kick off private vaccination program in March.

President Joko Widodo’s administration expected the arrival of 15 millions of Sinopharm Group Co. Ltd. vaccine in the first half and 5.2 millions of Moderna’s in the second half. Indonesia targets to inoculate 1.5 million residents per day in July.