Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine officially authorized for use in Indonesia

Photo: Felton Davis / CC BY 2.0
Photo: Felton Davis / CC BY 2.0

Indonesia has added another weapon to assist it in its struggle against COVID-19, and it’s a vaccine that has proved to be successful in slowing down coronavirus transmissions in other parts of the world.

The Food and Drugs Monitoring Agency (BPOM) today issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which will be crucial to control the spread of more transmissible variants of the coronavirus.

The EUA is the second issued by BPOM for an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine after the Moderna vaccine earlier this month. Indonesia is receiving around 4 million doses of the latter, which will be immediately distributed to healthcare workers — the majority of whom have received two doses of the Sinovac vaccine — to offer them better protection from more infectious coronavirus mutations.

Health Minister Budi Gudawan Sadikin said Indonesia has inked a deal with Pfizer-BioNTech to ship 50 million doses of the vaccine to the country throughout 2021. The government previously said the vaccine would be rolled out as part of the country’s fully-subsidized national mass vaccination program.

Clinical trials of the vaccine, administered in two doses 21 days apart, showed at least 95 percent efficacy at preventing infections. More recent real-life studies put the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as one of the leading shots to prevent infection and hospitalizations, while Pfizer believes the vaccine is especially effective against the Delta variant after a third booster shot.

As of July 15, 15.8 million Indonesians have been fully inoculated, the overwhelming majority of whom were given two doses of the Sinovac shot. There is no data yet on the efficacy of Sinovac against the Delta variant, which is ravaging through Indonesia in its current deadly COVID-19 surge.

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