Jakarta. Indonesia's drug supervisory agency has said it confident of finishing a review on the Covid-19 vaccine produced by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech and clear the vaccine for emergency use in the next couple of days, just in time for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's scheduled vaccination shot on next Wednesday.
The Health Ministry announced the President's vaccination schedule last week, drawing concerns from the public because the Food and Drug Control Agency (BPOM) has yet to issue emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Sinovac vaccine, currently the only available one in the country.
Penny Kusumastuti Lukito, BPOM's head, assuaged those concerns, saying that the agency has been encouraged by results supplied from Sinovac's clinical trials in Brazil, Turkey, and in Bandung, West Java gradually since last year.
"We have received data about [the vaccine's] efficacy regarding its safety, immunogenicity, and neutralization effect. The data have given us the confidence to expect that there would be a vaccination on Jan 13," Penny said in a press conference on Friday.
Reuters reported on Thursday that Sinovac's third phase clinical trial in Brazil had shown a 78 percent efficacy, well above the 50 percent benchmark set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Meanwhile, interim data from another third phase clinical trial in Turkey showed the vaccine had 91 percent efficacy based on data from 1,322 out of 7,000 volunteers that participated in the study.
Penny said that the final data from another phase three clinical trial conducted by the Medicine Department at Padjadjaran University would come in later on Friday, allowing the agency to start with their final evaluation.
Separately, the Fatwa Commission at Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) said on Friday Sinovac's vaccine is halal and untainted in its production process, giving the green light for its use among Indonesian Muslims.
However, Asrorun Niam, the chairman of MUI's fatwa commission, said the decision was not final and still subject to the emergency use authorization from BPOM.
A survey conducted by the Health Ministry, the National Immunization Technical Advisory Groups (Nitag), Unicef, and WHO last year on more than 112,000 respondents founded that Indonesians opposing vaccines on a religious basis were only a minority.
Only 8 percent of Muslim respondents reject the vaccine because due to their religious beliefs. Other undecided respondents were more concerned about the vaccine's safety, side effects, and effectiveness, the survey found.