Indonesian President Joko Widodo receives a shot of Covid-19 vaccine at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta.
Indonesia launched one of the world's biggest COVID-19 vaccination campaigns on Wednesday with President Joko Widodo getting the first shot of a Chinese vaccine as his country fights one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Asia.
The drive aims to inoculate 181.5 million people, with the first to be vaccinated receiving the CoronaVac vaccine from China's Sinovac Biotech, which Indonesia authorised for emergency use on Monday.
Dressed in a white shirt and wearing a mask, the president, who is known as Jokowi, got his shot at the presidential palace.
"Vaccination is important to break the chain of COVID-19 transmission and give protection to us and safety to every Indonesian and help accelerate economic recovery," Jokowi said after getting his injection.
Some other officials being vaccinated showed off their shot marks to waiting journalists and flexed their arms.
Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin has said nearly 1.5 million medical workers would be inoculated by February, followed by public servants and the general population within 15 months.
Unlike many countries, Indonesia intends to inoculate its working population first, rather than the elderly, partly because it does not have enough data from clinical trials on CoronaVac's efficacy on older people.
Indonesia on Tuesday reported a daily record 302 coronavirus deaths, taking fatalities to 24,645. Its infections are at their peak, averaging more than 9,000 a day, with 846,765 total cases.
Indonesia's stocks have risen in the last few days, helped by the launch of vaccinations, with the main index opening up around 0.7% on Wednesday.
"Vaccinations contributed a fairly positive market sentiment," said Hans Kwee, director at investment manager Anugerah Mega Investama.
Southeast asia’s largest economy suffered its first recession in more than two decades last year due to pandemic, with the government estimating a contraction of as much as 2.2%.
The government has said two-thirds of the 270 million population must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, with the cost of the programme expected to be more than 74 trillion rupiah ($5.26 billion).
Olivia Herlinda, a researcher at the Center for Indonesia's Strategic Development Initiatives, said authorities had not taken into account the vaccine efficacy and virus reproduction rate to justify its herd immunity focus.
Epidemiologist Masdalina Pane said that vaccines had to be accompanied by increased testing and tracing.
"There's not one bullet," she said.
Budi said Indonesia's testing and tracing needed improving, adding there was an imbalance in testing resources across the archipelago.
Indonesia has said its trials showed CoronaVac has an efficacy rate of 65.3%, but Brazilian researchers said on Tuesday the vaccine was only 50.4% effective.
Indonesia's food and drugs authority BPOM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bambang Heriyanto, corporate secretary of Bio Farma, the Indonesian company involved in the trials, said the Brazilian data was still above the 50% benchmark set by the World Health Organization.
Turkish researchers said in December CoronaVac showed a 91.25% efficacy based on interim analysis.
Indonesia expects to get another 122.5 million doses of CoronaVac by January 2022, with about 30 million doses due by the end of the first quarter this year.
It has also secured nearly 330 million doses of other vaccines, including from AstraZeneca and Pfizer and its partner BioNTech. ($1 = 14,060.0000 rupiah)
The president of the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, Joko Widodo, called on Monday for Indonesia not to rush the rollout of vaccines, citing concerns over public awareness about whether they were halal.
Indonesia, home to approximately 300 million, is among the first to benefit from the ongoing UAE-China Phase III anti-COVID-19 candidate vaccine clinical trial in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
Some 25.5 million first doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been shipped out to hospitals, clinics and nursing homes across the country, but only around 9 million have been injected, according to official data.
Indonesia’s economy expanded more slowly than expected in the first quarter of this year, as investment dropped ahead of elections and campaign spending failed to sustain growth momentum. Southeast Asia’s largest economy grew 5.07 per cent in January-March from a year earlier,
Cities nationwide were girding for a potential new wave of violent protests over the weekend, erecting barriers and deploying thousands of National Guard troops.
The attack occurred at the town hall in Miguel Hidalgo, one of the most prosperous districts of Mexico City.
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why,” said the American writer Mark Twain. “Why” here refers to finding out one’s life purpose or passion.