Indon leader, other officials, injected with COVID-19 vaccine

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Indonesian President Joko Widodo, together with other senior officials, were among those that got first crack at the government-approved COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccination of the 59-year-old leader known as “Jokowi” at the state palace was broadcast live on television and kicked off the country’s mass vaccination drive. It showed him and government officials, together with business and even religious leaders, receiving the vaccine.

The vaccine injected on Widodo and the others was produced by China’s Sinovac, which was recently approved by the country’s regulators despite a low efficacy rate of 65.3 percent based on tests done on the archipelago.

After receiving the first of two doses, President Widodo said he “didn’t feel it all,” while giving out a hearty laugh.

The second dose will be administered at a still unannounced date.

Aside from government regulators, the Sinovac vaccine was also approved by Indonesia’s top religious body as “halal,” an important consideration among Muslims who are still wary of the vaccine.

President Widodo reiterated the importance of the vaccination, which will be done to arrest rising COVID-19 cases, which now stands at 846,765 and 24,645 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, in this country of more than 270 million people.

The country also signed deals with other pharmaceutical companies that manufacture COVID-19 vaccines such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca, including Sinopharm for a total order of 330 million doses.

Health workers and those with high risk factors will be prioritized under the vaccination program, targeting at least 182 million people.

(Photo credit: Indonesian Presidential Palace via AP)

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