Indonesia holds off on AstraZeneca vaccine, awaits WHO review

JAKARTA: Indonesia will delay the administering of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine due to reports of blood clots among some recipients in Europe and would await a review from the World Health Organization (WHO), its health minister said on Monday (Mar 15).

The European Medicines Agency has said there is no indication that the events were caused by the vaccination, a view echoed Friday by the WHO, while AstraZeneca said on Sunday its review has shown no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots.

“To be conservative, the food and drug agency delayed implementation of AstraZeneca (vaccine) as it awaits confirmation from the WHO,” health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin told a parliamentary hearing on Monday. 

READ: AstraZeneca finds no evidence showing increased risk of blood clots with COVID-19 vaccine

Indonesia received 1.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine via the COVAX vaccine-alliance scheme this month and is set to receive some 10 million more in the next two months.

Thailand, which became the first country outside of Europe to delay use of the AstraZeneca shot on Friday, plans to start using the vaccine on Tuesday, officials said, with the prime minister and his Cabinet the first to receive it.

READ: Thailand to start using AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after delay over safety concerns

READ: Malaysia approves Sinovac, AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for use

The decision will leave Indonesia with just one approved vaccine, developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech, for use in its nationwide vaccination drive.

Its immunisation programme started in January and aims to reach 181.5 million people within a year.

The Southeast Asian country has been grappling with the worst outbreak in the region, having recorded more than 1.4 million infections and 38,500 deaths.

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