‘We’ll do it in 15 months’: Health Ministry counters study saying Indonesia needs 10 years to vaccinate population

Photo for illustration purpose only. Photo: Pexels/Cottonbro
Photo for illustration purpose only. Photo: Pexels/Cottonbro

Indonesia did not take kindly to a prediction that it would need at least 10 years to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19 through vaccination, with officials adamant that the feat is achievable by next year.

This week, Bloomberg projected that, based on countries’ current vaccination rates, Indonesia would need more than 10 years to vaccinate 75 percent of its population to achieve herd immunity against the coronavirus, if it continues to administer jabs at the current rate of around 60,000 people per day. 

By comparison, Bloomberg projected that Israel would need two months to achieve herd immunity, the UK six months, and the US 11 months. In addition, Bloomberg predicted that the pandemic would end in seven years at the current global vaccination rate.

Of course, the key factor in the countries’ projections is that they’re based on current vaccination rates. Speaking about the projection, Indonesia’s Health Ministry says it’s still certain that the rate will soon pick up and meet the government’s initial target for herd immunity achievement.

“We are committed to carry out [the mass vaccination program] in 15 months, maximum. We can even speed it up to 12 months by ensuring vaccine availability,” the Health Ministry’s COVID-19 vaccination spokeswoman Siti Nadia Tarmizi said today.

Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko was less kind about Bloomberg’s projection, suggesting that the outlet “should re-educate themselves.”  

Indonesia began its COVID-19 mass vaccination program in mid-January, with health workers the first in line for jabs. As of Feb. 8, the country has administered the first dose of the CoronaVac vaccine to 814,585 people, 171,270 of whom have received their second of the required two doses of the vaccine.

At the start of the vaccination program, the government said it aims to vaccinate 70 percent of the country’s total population, amounting to some 180 million people, to trigger herd immunity against COVID-19 by early 2022. To achieve that, the government would need to inoculate around 800,000 people per day.

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