Jakarta. Former Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto has been kicked out of the Indonesian Doctors Association, or IDI, for “serious ethical misconducts”, prominent members confirmed on Saturday.
Terawan served with the Joko Widodo administration for just 14 months until December 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic began to rage across the country.
He is known as a controversial figure at the height of the pandemic in which he compared Covid-19 to common flu. In February 2020, he said Indonesia had zero Covid-19 cases due to the blessing from God and labeled a scientific study questioning government data as “an insult” to the country.
“Terawan’s membership with the IDI has been permanently terminated,” tweeted Pandu Riono, an epidemiologist with the University of Indonesia.
The decision was announced during the IDI national conference in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, on Friday. A clip from the conference shows the chair reading out the decision, effective immediately.
Safrizal Rahman, the head of IDI’s Aceh chapter, told Kompas news website on Saturday that the recommendation to force Terawan from IDI has been submitted with the board since a year ago.
Prior to his ministerial job, Terawan had angered the IDI leadership for introducing the so-called “brainwash therapy” to cure patients with strokes without the consent from the association when he was the chairman of Gatot Subroto Army Hospital in Jakarta.
He implemented a procedure called the digital subtraction angiogram, which used a catheter from inside an artery in the leg up to the blood vessels in the brain, without a prior clinical trial.
The IDI decided to suspend his role at the ethics board between February 2018 and February 2019.
A month before the new cabinet was announced in October that year, the IDI’s ethics board warned the president against appointing Terawan as health minister due to his past ethical issues.
The main reason for his latest termination from the IDI was his experimental vaccine against Covid-19, which he has been actively promoting since leaving the cabinet.
Medical experts have argued that Terawan’s Nusantara Vaccine is actually not a vaccine.
It uses dendritic cells previously loaded with the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
A summary of the method has been published on the United States National Library of Medicine’s website under the title “Dendritic Cell Vaccine to Prevent Covid-19”.
The method involves 50 ml of the patient’s blood, “from which peripheral blood monocytes will be isolated and differentiated into the dendritic cell before incubation with SARS-CoV-2 spike protein”.
This resulted in a “vaccine” that will be injected into the particular patient about seven days after the incubation process.
The study was posted on Dec. 28, 2020, six days after Terawan was dismissed from the cabinet.
The US website carries a disclaimer: “The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government.”
Although the study mentioned the Indonesian Health Ministry as one of the sponsors, the government has never approved the public use of this method, citing failure to meet good clinical practice.
But many prominent people from lawmakers and cabinet members to businessmen and celebrities have voluntarily participated in the trial.
The Drug and Food Supervisory Agency (BPOM) said 71 percent of 28 volunteers in the trial had experienced adverse reactions such as muscle pain, headache, fever, rashes, sore throat, cough, and nausea.
At least three volunteers saw the unusual rise of cholesterol level and one volunteer suffered hypernatremia or a high concentration of sodium in the blood after having a shot, according to the BPOM report.