A vendor at Tanah Abang Market gets a Covid-19 jab during the second phase of the mass vaccination program in Tanah Abang Market, Central Jakarta on Feb 17, 2021. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

All Vaccines Effective to Produce Antibodies Against Covid-19

MARCH 16, 2021

Jakarta. More than 1.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from the global procurement scheme Covax arrived in Indonesia last week. 

The Covax facility will continue to ship 11,704,800 AstraZeneca doses for Indonesia until May 2021. The Covax is a global initiative to ensure the world's population equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines. Coordinating the scheme are Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi), the World Health Organization (WHO), and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

"The AstraZeneca vaccines we received are not the ones that we purchased directly from the manufacturers, but are part of the Covax scheme," immunization expert Jane Soepardi wrote in a statement.

According to Jane, the government has directly bought AstraZeneca doses from its manufacturer, like the earlier China's Sinovac vaccine. The purchased AstraZeneca doses, however, have yet to arrive. "Countries are fighting for the vaccine as the supply is limited. Countries who place their hope in assistance only receive 20 percent of their needs. The Indonesian people must be grateful that the government had attempted to procure the doses earlier and already began vaccinating in January 2021."

Meanwhile, the AstraZeneca vaccine already earned an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Control Agency (BPOM). WHO has also granted the vaccine emergency use listing (EUL). "In principle, all vaccines are effective. All vaccine manufacturers follow the same rules and must pass WHO's assessment. The main concern should be the limited supply," Jane said.

Jane also warned of mix and matching the vaccine shots. "For instance, if someone takes Sinovac for the first dose and has a different the next. We must not let that happen. There is a possibility that the AstraZeneca vaccine will be distributed to the regions that have not received the vaccine so they won't be mixed." 

When it comes to storage, AstraZeneca does not differ from the previously used vaccine. The AstraZeneca vaccine requires a refrigerator for storage with a temperature of 2 to 18 degrees Celsius. "The inoculation method is the same with a 90 degrees-angle intramuscular injection. Exactly the same. The vaccinators are ready to use the vaccine, there is no need for a special training for AstraZeneca. An internal briefing among the vaccinators prior to the vaccination is enough," Jane said.

She noted there are several onsite issues that can cause a lagging vaccination rate. "Especially in the pre-vaccination screening. There are still many people who cannot get the Covid-19 jab because they fail the screening and thus, the low vaccination rate. We are against the clock as the virus is still spreading and the pandemic has yet to end."

Jane remains optimistic that the government can soon complete the vaccination program. "Indonesia once vaccinated 60 million children for measles in a month. So we can vaccinate [the people] quickly as long as supplies last."

She also highlighted that in principle, all Covid-19 vaccines circulating across the globe are all the same. "All of them are effective to produce antibodies against the virus and they have been proven effective against all Covid-19 variants. Those with comorbidities must keep [their conditions] under control so the vaccine can effectively generate antibodies. It is unfortunate if the costly vaccine is inaffective because our bodies are sick," she said.

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