JAKARTA – Obviously dissatisfied with the performance of the China-made Sinovac vaccine, Indonesia said it will be giving Moderna booster shots to its frontline workers as it struggles to curb the ongoing surge of Covid19 infections that is threatening the viability of its health system and the lives of its citizens.
According to the Indonesian health ministry, the decision to administer booster shots to some 1.47 million health workers – who are exposed to Covid patients on a daily basis – was due to nagging doubts about the efficacy of Chinese-made vaccines (such as Sinovac and Sinopharm), with which they were initially inoculated against the deadly disease.
For now, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said only health workers will be given the third shot (from Moderna, a vaccine manufactured in Massachusetts USA) as they encounter high levels of viruses daily.
“We must protect them so their performance remains good,” NikkeiAsia quoted Sadikin as saying last week.
He said this Moderna booster shot should provide maximum immunity to health workers against existing Covid19 variants.
It was disclosed that the U.S. will be donating four million Moderna shots to Indonesia next week under the Covax global vaccine sharing program.
China had reportedly provided some 85 percent of all vaccines received by Indonesia, as of June 2021.
Sadikin said that doubts about the efficacy of China’s vaccines sprouted after some 350 health workers, mostly recipients of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine, contracted Covid19 and had to be hospitalized. Some of them died.
As of July 12, Indonesia has racked up the worst Covid statistics in the ASEAN region, with some 2.5 million cases and 66,464 deaths. The Philippines follows closely with some 1.47 million cases and 25,816 deaths.
(Here, Department of Health officials keep insisting that Sinovac, which is the vaccine-of-choice of the Duterte administration, is quite effective in preventing severe Covid requiring hospitalization, and deaths.)