A Tanah Abang market trader gets a jab of Covid-19 vaccine during second phase of Covid-19 mass vaccination in Tanah Abang market, Central Jakarta on Feb 17, 2021. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

WHO's Approval of Sinopharm to Boost Vaccine Access in Indonesia


MAY 11, 2021

Jakarta. World Health Organization's recent nod for the Chinese Covid-19 jab, Sinopharm, for emergency use can boost vaccine access and consequently pave the way for herd immunity in Indonesia.

Last week, WHO granted Sinopharm an emergency use listing (EUL), enabling it to be rolled out globally. Also, in late April, the National Food and Drug Control Agency (BPOM) gave their green light for Sinopharm after evaluating the phase III clinical trials.


According to the Covid-19 Handling and National Economic Recovery Committee (KPCPEN), the approval can help bolster vaccine supply and eventually bolster vaccination efforts. 

"We hope herd immunity can be achieved immediately," the committee's public communication PMO director Arya Sinulingga wrote in a statement on Monday.

Indonesia is aiming to vaccinate more than 181 million people in a bid to achieve herd immunity. Arya hoped people would not hesitate to get their Covid-19 shot with the vaccine declared safe for use.

"By getting the vaccine, [we will not] only protect ourselves, but the people around us," he said.

So far, Indonesia has secured a million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine. As well as 68.5 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine and 6.4 million Astrazeneca doses acquired via the multilateral scheme Covax Facility.

The WHO sees Sinopharm joining their emergency list can help accelerate vaccine access for countries seeking to protect health workers and populations at risk. 

According to the WHO, the EUL opens doors for countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer Covid-19 vaccines. In addition, the EUL is a prerequisite for Covax Facility, which aims to ensure vaccine access for lower and middle-income economies.

“We urge the manufacturer to participate in the Covax Facility and contribute to the goal of more equitable vaccine distribution,” Mariângela Simão, WHO assistant director-general for access to health products, said in a separate press statement last Friday.

Safe for Emergency Use

BPOM head Penny K Lukito stated the Sinopharm vaccine had achieved a 78.02 percent efficacy rate based on phase III clinical trials in the UAE and several other countries. The clinical trials involved 42,000 subjects. Side effects were also infrequent, with an occurrence rate of a low 0.01 percent.

After reviewing Sinopharm’s data, BPOM, Indonesian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (Itagi), and clinical experts concluded that Sinopharm is safe to use.

"Based on the evaluations, and after weighing the risks and benefits, on April 29, BPOM has issued an emergency use authorization numbered EUA2159000143A2 for the vaccine. One dose of the vaccine will be stored in a 0.5 ml vial," Penny said late April.

The Sinopharm requires two doses administered 21-28 days apart. State-controlled pharmaceutical company Kimia Farma will be in charge of distributing the vaccine in Indonesia. BPOM will first conduct a lot release before Sinopharm is used for the vaccine rollout.

Indonesia has injected a total of 22.2 million vaccine doses to 13.4 million people by Monday, with 8.8 million among them already receiving the complete two doses. On Monday, the country injected more than 254,000 doses of vaccines. At the current pace, Indonesia would finish the vaccination against Covid-19 in October 2024, according to the Jakarta Globe calculation, well past the government's target of March 2021.