Indonesia Approves China’s Sinovac Vaccine Use for Elderly

Indonesia approved Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s Covid-19 vaccine for use on the elderly after receiving clinical trial results from China and Brazil at the end of January.

The clinical trials showed no reports of serious side effects on the use of the vaccine, according to Penny Lukito, head of Indonesia’s food and drug regulator. The first and second phase of clinical trials of the shot in China that involved 400 elderly people showed good results of increased amount of antibodies, she said in a briefing on Sunday.

Phase three of Brazil’s clinical trial of 600 people aged 59 to 70 only showed mild effects such as headaches, Lukito said. The regulator advised vaccinations for people above 70 to be done carefully and for them to be monitored by doctors.

“The death rate because of the Covid-19 virus is relatively high for the elderly, so we need to also give priority for the elderly to get vaccinated,” Lukito said.

About half of people who died because of Covid-19 are the elderly, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said in a separate briefing. Indonesia will start vaccinations for those above 60 on Monday with priority for health workers, Sadikin said.

State-owned PT Bio Farma, which partners with Sinovac to produce the shots locally, received the approval in a letter from the food and drug regulator, company spokesman Bambang Heriyanto said in a text message.

Indonesia started its mass inoculation drive on Jan. 13 with a Sinovac vaccine. More than 780,000 people have received their first shot and about 139,000 have had a second, official data showed. The government plans to vaccinate 181.5 million people by March 2022.

Covid-19 infections and deaths continued to rise by record numbers in the Southeast Asian country in January. Authorities confirmed 163 deaths from the virus in the 24 hours through midday Sunday, bringing the total to 31,556. About 1.2 million Indonesians have tested positive for Covid-19 and 949,990 have recovered from the disease.

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