President Joko Widodo takes first jab as Indonesia starts mass COVID-19 vaccinations

President Joko Widodo takes first jab as Indonesia starts mass COVID-19 vaccinations
Indonesian President Joko Widodo receives a shot of COVID-19 vaccine at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on Jan. 13, 2021. (Indonesian Presidential Palace via Reuters)
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Updated 13 January 2021

President Joko Widodo takes first jab as Indonesia starts mass COVID-19 vaccinations

President Joko Widodo takes first jab as Indonesia starts mass COVID-19 vaccinations
  • Conditional use of the Sinovac Biotech vaccine is scheduled to be rolled out in the coming months
  • Indonesia’s vaccination program is the first large-scale use of the Sinovac vaccine outside of China

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Wednesday received the first shot of a Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine after Indonesia approved it for emergency use and began efforts to vaccine millions of people in the world’s fourth most populated country.
After Widodo, top military, police and medical officials were vaccinated, as well as the secretary of the Indonesian Ulema Council, the clerical body that last week ruled the vaccine was halal and could be taken by Muslims. Others such as a health care worker, businesspeople and a social media influencer also received the shots to encourage people to get the vaccine when it is available to them.
“We need to do the vaccination to stop the chain spread of COVID-19 and give health protection to us and the safety to all Indonesian people. It will also help accelerate economic improvement,” Widodo said.
“This vaccine is the instrument we can use to protect us. But more importantly, the vaccine is the instrument to protect our family, our neighbor, Indonesian people and the human civilization,” Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Wednesday.
“This vaccine is given to achieve herd immunity. All 70 percent of the world’s people must be vaccinated for that to be achieved. The participation of all Indonesians will greatly determine the success of this program,” he said.
Conditional use of the Sinovac Biotech vaccine is scheduled to be rolled out in the coming months with health care workers, civil servants and other at-risk populations prioritized. It will be free for all Indonesian citizens.
For Indonesia to vaccinate two-thirds of its population, 181.5 million people, Sadikin said the two-shot vaccine would require almost 427 million doses, including the estimate that 15 percent may be wasted.
Distribution will not be easy in the vast archipelago where transportation and infrastructure are limited in places. Health officials have cited concerns about keeping the vaccine refrigerated at the required 36–46 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain its safety and effectiveness.
“We know that the cold-chain distribution is not complete. This is the obstacle,” Sadikin said Tuesday. “The cold-chain facilities are not enough so we are still distributing some of the vaccines. We are worried.”
Indonesia received its first shipment of the Sinovac vaccines on Dec. 6 and began distributing the doses around the country while awaiting emergency use authorization. It was cleared for emergency use based on clinical trial data and after the Indonesian Ulema Council declared the vaccine holy and halal.
Indonesia’s vaccination program is the first large-scale use of the Sinovac vaccine outside of China.
Indonesia has recorded more than 846,000 cases of the virus, including over 24,600 deaths.


China: US military in South China Sea not good for peace

China: US military in South China Sea not good for peace
Updated 7 min ago

China: US military in South China Sea not good for peace

China: US military in South China Sea not good for peace
  • China has repeatedly complained about US Navy ships getting close to islands it occupies in the South China Sea
BEIJING: The United States often sends ships and aircraft into the South China Sea to “flex its muscles” and this is not good for peace, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday, after a US aircraft carrier group sailed into the disputed waterway.
The strategic South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade flows each year, has long been a focus of contention between Beijing and Washington, with China particularly angered by US military activity there.
The US carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt and accompanied by three warships, entered the waterway on Saturday to promote “freedom of the seas,” the US military said, just days after Joe Biden became US president.
“The United States frequently sends aircraft and vessels into the South China Sea to flex its muscles,” the foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, told reporters, responding to the US mission.
“This is not conducive to peace and stability in the region.”
China has repeatedly complained about US Navy ships getting close to islands it occupies in the South China Sea, where Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan all have competing claims.
The carrier group entered the South China Sea at the same time as Chinese-claimed Taiwan reported incursions by Chinese air force jets into the southwestern part of its air defense identification zone, prompting concern from Washington.
China has not commented on what its air force was doing, and Zhao referred questions to the defense ministry.
He reiterated China’s position that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and that the United States should abide by the “one China” principle.
Biden’s new administration says the US commitment to Taiwan is “rock-solid.”
The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is the democratic island’s most important international backer and main arms supplier, to China’s anger.