The Jakarta Post
Vice President Ma’ruf Amin visited a community health center (Puskesmas) in North Cikarang, Bekasi regency, West Java, on Thursday morning to supervise a simulation for the upcoming COVID-19 mass vaccination drive.
During the visit, Ma’ruf witnessed the procedures for the vaccination program. He was accompanied by Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil and Bekasi Regent Eka Supriatmaja.
“The simulation is part of the overall preparation ahead of the [COVID-19] immunization, which has been set by the government,” said Ma’ruf during the visit as quoted by antaranews.com.
He went on to say that a series of preparations prior to the vaccination included the list of vaccine receivers, stages of injection, vaccine distribution mechanism and vaccine waste management.
Ma’ruf arrived at the Puskesmas at 8:50 a.m. and he immediately toured the area for the simulation, alongside Bekasi regency Health Agency head Sri Enny.
The simulation is part of the government’s efforts to promote the importance of the upcoming vaccination, which is believed to be essential in curbing the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had supervised a similar simulation held at the Puskesmas Tanah Sareal in Bogor, West Java, on Wednesday.
During the Bogor visit, the President said he expected the COVID-19 vaccination to be executed in late December or early January 2021, depending on the availability of the vaccines and the ability of the country to organize the immunization effort.
Nevertheless, the country might not be able to start the mass vaccination program this year because of efficacy concerns.
The Indonesian Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) has said it will not authorize the emergency use of a COVID-19 candidate vaccine in December because of a lack of data on its effectiveness.
However, the agency has offered an alternative restricted vaccination program through a “compassionate use” provision, where a vaccine may be used in a limited capacity even though its efficacy has not been proven.
BPOM head Penny Kusumastuti Lukito told lawmakers on Tuesday that, during an inspection of Sinovac Biotech facilities in China, her agency had obtained data from the first two phases of the candidate vaccine’s clinical trials. Data from the final stage of testing, taking place in Indonesia, would be available in late November.
The Sinovac candidate vaccine is one of several potential COVID-19 vaccines in final-stage testing globally. Sinovac has said it is confident about the safety of the potential vaccine.
However, according to Penny, final data on the candidate vaccine’s efficacy will arrive later than expected. This information is required for the vaccine’s approval for emergency use, as agreed in a World Health Organization forum on vaccine consultation on Nov. 6.
The forum was attended by world drug regulators, including the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
An interim analysis of the clinical trials would be obtained after three months of observation, Penny said. An efficacy rate of at least 50 percent would be needed for the vaccine’s approval. (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.