Jakarta. The Health Ministry has suspended the distribution of around 450,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Sunday and submitted the batch to Indonesia's drug authority for further tests following the death of a 22-year-old man who took the vaccine shot eleven days ago.
Food and Drug Administration (BPOM) would conduct toxicity and sterility tests on the batch before clearing them for use, Widyawati, the Health Ministry's head of communication and community service, said in a statement on Sunday.
"Not all of the AstraZeneca vaccine batches distribution and use were suspended. Only Batch CTMAV547 was temporarily suspended pending the results of investigations and testing from BPOM, which may take one to two weeks," Widyawati said.
Widyawati said that AstraZeneca batches other than CTMAV547 are safe to use so that people don't need to hesitate to receive their shots.
Indonesia received batch CTMAV547 batch from AstraZeneca on April 26 as part of 3.85 million vaccine doses procured through the Covax/GAVI facility — a global vaccine procurement initiative backed by the World Health Organization (WHO), developed countries, and private donors to ensure fair distribution of vaccine across the world.
The ministry said there were 448,480 doses from the batch left today. That is around two days' worth of vaccination at the country's current vaccination pace, according to the Globe calculation based on the ministry data.
The ministry said most of the batch ended up for vaccination on Indonesian Military (TNI) members and public and private sector service workers in Jakarta and North Sulawesi.
Trio Fauki Firdaus, 22, took his first AstraZeneca jab on May 5, participating in a vaccination program held by his employer Pegadaian, a state-owned pawning company.
According to his family, Trio suffered headaches, fever, and muscle pain upon arriving home in Duren Sawit, East Jakarta. The family then admitted Trio to the nearest hospital a day later as his symptoms worsened. He died before doctors had a chance to conduct emergency medical procedures.
The National Commission for Post-Immunization Events (KIPI) had looked into the case and recommended BPOM to conduct sterility and toxicity tests on the batch to gather more data that would confirm the cause of such severe Post-Immunization Follow-Up Incident (AEFI).
Siti Nadia Tarmizi, the Health Ministry's spokeswoman, said the temporary suspension was the "government's step of caution" to ensure the safety of this vaccine.
"Health Ministry urges the public to be calm and not be consumed by hoaxes. The public is expected always to access information from reliable sources,” Siti Nadia Tarmizi, the Health Ministry's spokeswoman,
"The use of the AstraZeneca vaccine continues because the Covid-19 vaccination brings greater benefits," he added.
KIPI said there has never been an incident of people dying as a result of the Covid-19 vaccination in Indonesia. The death of people who had been vaccinated against Covid-19 could be linked to other causes, not the result of the vaccinations they received, the commission said.
Indonesia has administered more than 22 million doses of the Covid vaccine, with 8.9 million people has received a complete dose since vaccination began on Jan 13.
Indonesia has taken delivery of a total of 6.4 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine since its first arrival on March 8. Coronavac, made by Chinese manufacturer Sinovac, accounts for most of the country's current vaccine stock of around 53 million doses.