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Jakarta Post

Jokowi 'ready' to receive first COVID-19 vaccine shot

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, November 18, 2020   /   04:51 pm
Jokowi 'ready' to receive first COVID-19 vaccine shot President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo visits state-owned pharmaceutical company PT Bio Farma to see its readiness in mass-producing a COVID-19 vaccine in Bandung, West Java, on Aug. 11. (Biro Pers Sekretariat Presiden/Kris)

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has expressed his willingness to be among the first people to be injected with the COVID-19 vaccine once it is ready for use.

“If anyone asks whether the President was among the firsts or last [to receive the vaccine], as long as I’m asked I’ll be ready to be among the firsts,” Jokowi said during his visit to the Tanah Sareal community health center (Puskemas) in Bogor, West Java, on Wednesday, as reported by antaranews.com.

Jokowi visited the health center to supervise a simulation for COVID-19 vaccination, accompanied by Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto and Bogor Mayor Bima Arya Sugiarto.

Despite stating his readiness, the President said health workers would be prioritized for the vaccine.

“Who will get the first injections? They are the health workers, such as doctors, nurses and paramedics,” he said

The next groups on the priority list are members of the Indonesian Military (TNI) and National Police as well as civil servants and teachers, Jokowi added.

Nevertheless, the government has yet to decide on which COVID-19 vaccine to use.

“We are going to buy a vaccine from a brand that is listed with the World Health Organization. I’m not saying which brand just yet, but as long as it is on the WHO list, we’re going to use it,” the President said.

“Apart from that, [we need to be certain] that the vaccine has the maximum effect.”

Jokowi previously said that the government planned to carry out a mass vaccination program late this year or early next year.

In August, Indonesia reportedly secured 300 million doses of a potential COVID-19 until the end of next year, following ministerial visits to China and the United Arab Emirates.

Jokowi instructed Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi and State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Minister Erick Thohir to meet with Chinese and Emirati officials to follow up on crucial vaccine cooperation as well as other economic partnerships. 

Following their four-day trip abroad, Retno said on Aug. 24 that the outcome of the visit had exceeded expectations, especially with regard to vaccine procurement. 

Indonesia has secured a commitment to receive 20 million to 30 million doses of the potential vaccine by the end of this year, some 80-130 million doses in the first quarter of next year and 210 million doses for the remainder of 2021, she said. 

“Therefore, if we talk about numbers, we have secured 290 million to 340 million for 2021,” she added.

In Sanya, China, Retno and Erick oversaw two deals between state-owned pharmaceuticals firm Bio Farma and China’s Sinovac Biotech that would give Indonesia the equivalent of 50 million doses of the potential vaccine from November to March and priority access for the rest of 2021.

Indonesia is already cooperating with Sinovac in phase three clinical trials of the vaccine candidate, with tests being carried out on 1,620 volunteers in Bandung since August. The government also looked into partnerships with two other Chinese drug manufacturers, Sinopharm and CanSino Biologics.

In Abu Dhabi, the ministers oversaw deals struck between state drugmakers Kimia Farma and Indofarma, as well as Group 42 (G42) Health Care, an artificial intelligence-based Emirati company that is actively involved in the research, development and distribution of COVID-19 testing and treatment applications.

G42 signed an agreement with Kimia Farma to develop vaccines and another with Indofarma to develop test kits using laser technology and AI to detect the virus. (nkn)

Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.