Calls to evaluate AstraZeneca vaccine in Indonesia as half-a-million doses recalled for analysis

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Flickr
The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Flickr

Indonesia’s unease with the AstraZeneca vaccine has grown after the government recalled nearly half-a-million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for analysis amid concerns of severe side effects — and in one case, death — potentially linked to the vaccine.

In an official statement, the Health Ministry yesterday said the batch of 448,480 doses, code-named CTMAV547, has been suspended from distribution and use as the Food and Drugs Monitoring Agency (BPOM) carries out toxicity and sterilization testing over the next two weeks.

“This is a form of caution to ensure the safety of this vaccine,” Health Ministry spokeswoman Siti Nadia Tarmizi said.

CTMAV547 was part of some 3.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that arrived in Indonesia on April 26 as part of a WHO-backed initiative to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries. Some doses from the batch have been administered to military personnel and civilians in Jakarta and South Sulawesi.

The Health Ministry assured the public that all other AstraZeneca doses — which total 6.4 million thus far — are safe for administration.

“The use of the AstraZeneca vaccine will continue because COVID-19 vaccination brings great benefits,” Siti said.

Though health authorities did not establish a causal link, the suspension of CTMAV547 came after a 22-year-old Jakarta man died from blood clots shortly after receiving an AstraZeneca jab. Officials have not explicitly confirmed if he was given a shot from the CTMAV547 batch.

Member of Parliament Saleh P Daulay is one of a growing number of Indonesians concerned about the AstraZeneca vaccine — not just the CTMAV547 batch.

“On the principles of caution I implore that all AstraZeneca vaccines be suspended until it can be ascertained that they are truly safe for the public,” he said.

“Don’t just test the one batch.”

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