Coronavirus: Indonesia securing 50mln COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Astrazeneca

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Indonesia is finalizing deals to secure 50 million doses of coronavirus vaccines from drugmakers Pfizer and AstraZeneca, the new health minister said on Tuesday.

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Budi Gunadi Sadikin said the deal with AstraZeneca would be finalized before the end of the year, while an agreement with Pfizer would be signed in the first week of January.

Speaking at his first official news conference, the minister said 1.3 million front-line health workers, 500 of whom have died of COVID-19, would get priority in the vaccination drive.

“They are the most important group of people in our battle against the pandemic,” he said.

The world’s fourth most populous country has struggled to contain the coronavirus. It has had nearly 720,000 confirmed cases and 21,500 deaths, among the highest tallies in Asia.

Medical workers will be included in the first wave of vaccinations between January and April, along with public servants. The second wave will cover those in infection “red-zone” areas.

While other countries have vaccinated the elderly first, Indonesia has said that after healthcare workers and public servants, those aged between 18 and 59 would be next in line in an effort to safeguard the working population.

Bambang Heriyanto, corporate secretary of state-owned drugmaker Bio Farma, said the strategy would allow Indonesia to reach herd immunity.

“If herd immunity is reached, anyone below 18 and above 59 can hopefully be protected, too,” he said.

In total, Indonesia has secured 329 million vaccine doses, including about 125 million from China’s Sinovac, 50 million from Novavax and 54 million from the global vaccine program COVAX.

AstraZeneca’s vaccines are expected to arrive in the second quarter of 2021 and Pfizer’s in the third quarter.

The two companies were not immediately available for comment.

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