December 23, 2020, 03.19 AM
Airport personnel unload the first shipments of the Covid-19 vaccine for Indonesia from the China-based Sinovac pharmaceutical company on Sunday (6/12/2020) ANTARA FOTO/DHEMAS REVIYANTOAirport personnel unload the first shipments of the Covid-19 vaccine for Indonesia from the China-based Sinovac pharmaceutical company on Sunday (6/12/2020)

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s plan to start inoculating the Indonesian people with a vaccine to combat the Covid-19 pandemic as early as possible has earned the scepticism of one of his senior ministers.

“Mass inoculation of the [Covid-19] vaccine in early 2021 is not feasible, as it needs an Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Agency [BPOM]," said Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture Muhadjir Effendy on Tuesday, December 22.  

“At best, we can start using the vaccine by the middle [of 2021] or even by the end of next year, so early 2021 is an optimistic calculation. After all, BPOM’s official authorization will determine when and how the vaccine will be used,” he added.

Also read: Survey Shows Widespread Skepticism in Covid-19 Vaccine in Indonesia

“Once we obtain that, we can start gearing our human resources toward the vaccine and orient the public in its use. ”

Muhadjir’s sobering assessment contrasted with President Jokowi’s aim to start mass vaccinations by early 2021.

“We need to start mass vaccinations [in early 2021] to earn public trust in [the government’s] handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, and give them a sense of security,” the President said. He emphasized that the early start is needed to jumpstart the Indonesian economy.

Also read: President Jokowi Okays Free Covid-19 Vaccination for All Indonesians 

“2020 has not been an easy year. The Indonesian economy experienced a recession, as it contracted by minus 5.32 percent in the second quarter of the year, and somewhat improved by minus 3.49 percent the next quarter.”

President Jokowi also ordered Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati to gear the state budget towards the government’s free vaccination program. Indonesia has designated six vaccines for its Covid-19 inoculation.

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