Indonesia suspends AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine batch after death
Jakarta ● Mon, May 17, 2021
The Indonesian government said Sunday it has suspended the distribution and use of a batch of AstraZeneca Plc's coronavirus vaccine following the death of a 22-year-old man a day after his inoculation with the vaccine.
The Ministry of Health called the suspension "a prudent effort by the government to ensure the safety of the vaccine," and said it plans to continue to use other batches of the vaccine it has received. The results of sterility and toxicity tests by the Drug and Food Monitoring Agency are expected to come out within one to two weeks, Kyodo News reported.
The batch in question, consisting of about 450,000 doses, arrived last month. It is part of the 3,852,000 AstraZeneca doses that Indonesia has received through the World Health Organization-backed COVAX facility.
COVAX is an international vaccine distribution platform set up to ensure equitable access to shots for developing countries. Local media reported that the man received a jab from the batch in the capital Jakarta on May 5 and died the next day. The batch had been distributed to Jakarta and North Sulawesi Province in central Indonesia, as well as to the military, according to the ministry.
Indonesia has fully inoculated almost 9 million of its 187 million eligible citizens under a nationwide vaccination drive that started in mid-January.
Meanwhile, Countries belonging to the G7 and the European Union can afford to donate more than 150 million vaccines to countries in need without compromising their own goals, UNICEF said Monday, quoted by AFP.
The world's seven richest states and the EU could help close the world's vaccine gap by sharing just 20 percent of their June, July and August stocks with the Covax jab scheme for poorer nations, a study by British firm Airfinity showed. "And they could do this while still fulfilling their vaccination commitments to their own populations," UNICEF director Henrietta Fore said.
The UK is due to host its fellow G7 member states Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US for a summit in June. By that time UNICEF said the Covax programme being co-led by Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, along with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) will find itself 190 million doses short of what it had planned to distribute.
The shortfall is in part due to a devastating flare-up of the virus in India, which was due to manufacture and export the majority of Covax doses and is now instead putting them to use at home. With additional shortages in supplies and funding, the statement called for swift action until more sustainable production models are within reach. "Sharing immediately available excess doses is a minimum, essential and emergency stop-gap measure, and it is needed right now," it read.
The US has 60 million AstraZeneca doses it could share, while France has pledged 500,000 doses and Sweden 1 million, with Switzerland considering a similar donation.
The Ministry of Health called the suspension "a prudent effort by the government to ensure the safety of the vaccine," and said it plans to continue to use other batches of the vaccine it has received.