Indonesia resumes use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine

In this March 8, 2021, photo released by Indonesian Presidential Palace, workers unload containers containing AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine upon its arrival at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia. (Photo: AP)

Indonesia on Friday cleared the AstraZeneca vaccine for use again after the European Union’s drug regulator said the vaccine didn’t increase the overall incidence of blood clots.

Southeast Asia’s biggest economy delayed the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine after more than a dozen countries in Europe suspended the vaccine due to concerns of some people who received the vaccine developing blood clots.

“The benefits of using the COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca outweigh the possible risks, so that we can start to use it,” Indonesia’s Food and Drug Authority said in its announcement.

Previously the World Health Organization said it saw no evidence the vaccine was to blame for the clots.

The Indonesian agency said the risk of death from COVID-19 was much greater, “Therefore, the community still has to get vaccination against COVID-19 according to the designated schedule.”

Indonesia has received 1.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 8, through COVAX — a multilateral effort seeking to ensure equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccination — with another 10 million more expected next month.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is the second to arrive in Indonesia after the one made by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac.

Indonesia aims to inoculate more than 181 million of its 270 million people by March 2022 as part of a free vaccination drive that began in January.