Indonesia Have An Uphill Climb in Gaining Herd Immunity

January 13, 2021, 05.05 AM
A photo of Covid-19 vaccine. Kompas.COM/MUHAMMAD NAUFALA photo of Covid-19 vaccine.

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – The Indonesian Health Ministry has expressed its skepticism about President Joko Widodo’s goal of immunizing 181 million Indonesians through 2022 to gain herd immunity against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Indonesian Ministry of Health spokesperson Siti Nadia Tarmizi observed that Indonesia still have a long way to go in reaching this aim.

“The [Covavax] vaccine that has been arriving in Indonesia in December 2020 and January 2021 is ideal in gaining herd immunity,” Nadia said to Kompas.com on Tuesday, January 12..

"Its 65.3 percent efficacy rate means we could reduce the number of Covid-19 cases by that number." But she noted that the government still has much to do.

Also read: Indonesia Finalizes Purchase of 50 Million Doses of Covid-19 Vaccine from Pfizer

“Vaccinating 1.4 million people in early stages when the target was to vaccinate 181.5 million people means we have a long way to go before reaching herd immunity. But we might reach this goal, if vaccinations among health workers and their families remain high.”

Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology head Amin Soebandrio expressed similar reservations. But while Nadia’s scepticism stemmed from the number of people who are immunized, Amin’s scepticism lay in the program’s time frame.

Herd immunity is hard to obtain if the time frame of the vaccinations is 1.5 years. A person’s antibodies that were built up by the vaccine only lasts six months,” Amin said.

Also read: 15 Million Doses of Covid-19 Bulk Vaccine Arrive in Indonesia

“Add that to the number of people who were not vaccinated yet or are still pending, and the goal of reaching 70 percent herd immunity is an uphill climb. In short, the mass vaccinations have to be carried out in a shorter time frame.”

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