KOMPAS.com- British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has refuted reports that its Covid-19 vaccine contains trypsin from swine, after Indonesia authorized the use of its Covid-19 vaccine for mass vaccinations next week.
AstraZeneca made the assertion, after the Indonesian Ulama Council or MUI issued a fatwa authorizing use of the vaccine despite its alleged use of swine trypsin, due to the emergency situation brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
The allegations caused an outcry among Indonesia’s Muslim majority population.
“We appreciate the MUI’s statement [about the Covid-19 vaccine]. We would like to clarify that AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine is a virus vector that contains no animal products, including those from swine or other animals,” AstraZeneca said in its press release on Saturday.
“The British MHRA [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency] has confirmed this. We have not used animal products at all levels of the vaccine’s development.”
AstraZeneca added that their vaccine, which was created by scientists in Oxford University and its spinout Vaccitech, “has been approved by 70 countries, including Muslim-majority nations such as Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia,” the company noted.
The allegations that the vaccine contained swine products occurred nearly two weeks after Indonesia received its first batch of 1.1 million vaccines from AstraZeneca on March 8, following rounds of multilateral diplomacy with institutions such as the GAVI COVAX Facility.
However, Indonesia followed suit with 17 countries, including the Netherlands and Thailand, in suspending use of the AstraZeneca vaccine pending a World Health Organization [WHO] review.
This development came following reports that the vaccine induced potentially lethal blood clots among its recipients.
The Indonesian Food and Drug Agency or BPOM vouched for the vaccine.
“BPOM found that the AstraZeneca vaccine’s benefits still outweigh its risks. The European Medicine Agency [EMA] has found that the vaccine has nothing to do with the risks of blood clotting,” said BPOM’s spokesperson for the Covid-19 vaccine Lucia Rizka Andalusia.
“Clinical tests also showed that the AstraZeneca vaccine can provide 100 percent protection against serious illnesses, hospitalization and death more than 22 after the first dosage was administered.”
Lucia’s Ministry of Health counterpart Siti Nadia Tarmizi also hailed BPOM and MUI’s decision to endorse the AstraZeneca vaccine. “The AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has an 62.1 percent efficacy rate. This is higher than the standard set by the World Health Organization,” she noted on Friday.