COVID-19 vaccine trial must be completed, say Indonesian doctors
by Mathias Hariyadi

The third phase of testing of the drug bought from China’s Sinovac is not yet completed. Like Brazil, Indonesia should test the same product on 15,000 volunteers. Jakarta is in a hurry to start immunisation, but so far, the vaccine has been tested on just over 9,000 volunteers. Indonesia is the Southeast Asian country most affected by the pandemic.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The Indonesian Medical Association issued a statement addressed to the Ministry of Health saying that the third phase of the clinical trial must be completed before any national anti-coronavirus vaccination programme starts.

Indonesia’s healthcare professionals, internists included, back the government's efforts to rapidly provide a vaccine developed jointly with Chinese company Sinovac Biotech.

However, mass vaccination can only be done if the clinical trials are fully completed, like in Brazil, another country that, along with Turkey, Chile and Bangladesh, bought the drug made in China.

"At least 9,000 volunteers have been vaccinated in Brazil,” the statement reads, "but the final result of the third clinical trial will be achieved only after 15 ,000 subjects have been vaccinated.”

Based on the practices followed in Brazil, where safety and preventive protocols were rigorously applied, Indonesian doctors suggest not to rush into vaccination.

In Indonesia, the last phase of the clinical trials for an anti-COVID vaccine started a month ago.

PT Bio Farma, the local company working with Sinovac, said that 1,074 volunteers out of 1,620 were vaccinated to complete the third phase of the study. Of these, 671 were tested with positive results and no side effects.

Vensya Sihotang, director of the Surveillance and Quarantine Office at the Ministry of Health confirmed the results.

According to the World Health Organisation, Indonesia is the Southeast Asian country most affected by the pandemic, followed by the Philippines. More than 373,000 cases have been reported so far with 12,857 deaths.