Over 80% of Indonesia’s vaccine supply comes from China – Radio Free Asia
Just over 80% of COVID-19 vaccines in Indonesia come from China, while a fifth of all vaccines exported by the superpower have gone to the Southeast Asian country, officials said.
Indonesia is the largest recipient of Chinese vaccines, according to Beijing-based research firm Bridge Consulting, and that, according to one analyst, does not show Jakarta’s much-vaunted “free and active” foreign policy.
Jakarta received two million additional doses of the vaccine made by Chinese company Sinovac Biotech on Friday, this time as a donation from Beijing and the pharmaceutical company, said Xiao Qian, Chinese ambassador to Indonesia.
“So far, Sinovac and Sinopharm have sent 215 million doses of vaccine to Indonesia,” Xiao said at an online press conference.
“It accounts for nearly 20% of all vaccines exported by China during the same period and more than 80% of the total vaccines obtained by Indonesia. “
Overall, Indonesia has received 273 million doses of vaccines from various drug makers around the world, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Friday. These include doses produced by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen.
Retno said international cooperation was essential to end the pandemic.
“Our diplomatic apparatus continues to function, establishing cooperation in various forms so that our vaccine needs are met,” she told reporters.
But with 215 million of the 273 million doses of vaccine coming from China, it appears Indonesia’s diplomatic machine has put most of its eggs, so to speak, in one basket, according to international relations expert Teuku Rezasyah.
“Relying on just one supplier is not good,” Rezasyah, a professor at Padjadjaran University in Bandung, told BenarNews, an online news service affiliated with RFA.
The cases of Bangladesh and Thailand have proven this.
The South Asian country signed a huge vaccine deal with an Indian company, but was then stuck without a shot for months when the manufacturer halted exports after a horrific second wave of COVID-19 that hit India.
Closer to Indonesia, Thailand’s over-reliance on AstraZeneca’s vaccine, because a local manufacturer was awarded a contract to produce it, turned out to be its downfall when the company n could not deliver enough or on time. The country is still behind in its vaccination campaign.
Rezasyah said Indonesia should have widened its vaccine net from the start.
“We should have launched an international tender from the start,” he said.
“China understands that this [vaccine] business is very profitable and long term. It was made easier because Indonesia and China also have a strategic partnership.
Indonesia needs to engage more broadly with other countries for vaccine supply, he said.
It would also be in line with the basis of its foreign policy, Rezasyah said of the archipelago nation which is one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Effectiveness of Sinovac decreasing?
Additionally, research conducted in Indonesia and published in August showed the Sinovac vaccine, named CoronaVac, to provide protection against COVID-19 – a clinical trial has shown its effectiveness to be 65%.
But the study by the research and development wing of the Ministry of Health also found that the vaccine was less effective in protecting against death and serious illness during the April-June period, compared to the previous three months.
The vaccine prevented 79% of deaths between April and June, up from 95% in January-March, said Siti Nadia Tarmizi, spokesperson for the government COVID-19 task force.
It prevented 53% of hospitalizations from April to June, compared to 74% from January to March.
Siti did not provide a reason for the drop, but the infections that led to the highly contagious second wave linked to the Delta variant may well have started during the April-June period.
As of Friday, more than 84.8 million people in the country had received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including 47.7 million fully vaccinated, according to data from the Ministry of Health.
Of those fully vaccinated with Sinovac vaccines, nearly 900,000 received a third non-Sinovac dose.
Indonesia said in July that it plans to give a third vaccine to many of the 1.47 million medical workers inoculated with Sinovac, using a vaccine developed by Moderna – a US pharmaceutical company – to protect them from the Delta strain.
A group of Indonesian volunteers who are monitoring data on the pandemic, LaporCOVID-19, at the time said some health workers fully vaccinated with Sinovac had died from COVID-19. Thailand made a similar announcement this month.
Meanwhile, Indonesia has yet to receive any of the 20 million doses of Sputnik vaccine promised by Russia, even though the country’s Food and Drug Surveillance Agency has issued an emergency use authorization for the vaccine.
“I cannot answer in detail because it is still under negotiation,” Russian Ambassador to Jakarta Lyudmila Vorobieva told a virtual press conference on Wednesday.
“There are formalities to be completed.
Reported by BenarNews, an online news service affiliated with RFA.