Indonesian doctors are afraid of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine
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Indonesian doctors are afraid of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine

Nearly 1.5 million Indonesian health workers will be the first in the world’s fourth most populous country to be vaccinated with CoronaVac vaccine from Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech, after Indonesia activated its vaccination campaign from

`I’m not against vaccines. I’m just against Sinovac,` said Yusdeny Lanasakti, a doctor in East Java province.

Airport staff and Indonesian soldiers move Sinovac vaccine batches at Soekarno-Hatta airport near Jakarta on January 12.

Indonesia granted emergency use authorization for CoronaVac on January 11 based on tests in the country showing it was 65.3% effective.

Sinovac has not commented on the above issue.

The Indonesian Medical Association also encourages the use of CoronaVac, in the context that at least 259 doctors in the country have died from Covid-19.

`We can reduce the high death rate among doctors and medical staff,` said association leader Daeng M. Faqih.

The number of doctors dying in Indonesia is only about 1/3 that of India, but India has more than 5 times the population and the number of deaths from Covid-19 is 6 times higher than Indonesia.

Dominicus Husada, a pediatrician in East Java, says he is willing to get vaccinated but has some questions about CoronaVac that are unanswered, like how long immunity lasts and how it wanes over time

Doctors want more information about this vaccine to ease concerns, said Tri Maharani, a doctor in East Java who has had Covid-19 and will not be vaccinated with CoronaVac.

Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist at Australia’s Griffith University, added that `if medical experts have raised doubts, there are fundamental problems`.

Indonesian doctors are afraid of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine

Medical staff check boxes of Sinovac vaccines in Surabaya city on January 13.

Siti Nadia Tarmizi, a senior official at the Indonesian Ministry of Health, said there would be no sanctions against doctors who refuse vaccination, but advised medical staff not to worry.

Besides logistics, skepticism about the Chinese vaccine is also a challenge for the Indonesian government as it achieves its goal of vaccinating more than 180 million people on thousands of islands in the next 15 months.

A survey in December 2020 showed that only 37% of Indonesians were willing to get vaccinated, 40% said they would consider and 17% refused.

To boost confidence in the national vaccination campaign, Indonesian President Joko Widodo became the first person to receive Sinovac’s vaccine today.

`It seems like the vaccine development process is being rushed to prevent a pandemic, but only a few trials have been completed,` she said.

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