Minister Dismisses Harvard's Study on Coronavirus in Indonesia



Petir Garda Bhwana

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto dismissed a study by five Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers suggesting a potential undetected Coronavirus case in the country, citing the ministry’s international-standard medical procedures.

    "All have been thoroughly checked. Our medical kits (to check the possibility of Coronavirus) are from the United States of America," Putranto remarked following a coordination meeting with Vice President Ma'ruf Amin in Jakarta, Tuesday.

    He expounded the Ministry of Health had launched a series of research on Coronavirus (the 2019 n-CoV) at the BSL 3 (Biosafe Level 3) laboratory to examine MERS (middle east respiratory syndrome), a viral respiratory illness caused by Coronavirus.

    "We are transparent with our researches. Please come to our lab if there are experts from WHO (UN's World Health Organization) and US researchers interested in taking a look at our medical tests," Putranto remarked.

    He further noted that the UN's health body had approved medical procedures conducted by Indonesia's government.  

    "If there is a request for surveys, researches, please file a letter with us, but we expect there are no statements discrediting a country's effort (to tackle the virus)," he added.

    A new study on the 2019 n-CoV posted on medRxiv uncovered a possibility of potential undetected cases of Coronavirus in Indonesia and Cambodia after creating a mathematical model on the air travel volume from Mainlaind China, including Wuhan, to the two countries.

    The study stated a possibility that "[...] Locations with direct flights from Wuhan and reported case counts below the 95% PI (prediction interval) may suggest the potential for undetected cases in these locations given the expected connection before travel control measures were implemented. In particular, Indonesia and Cambodia with direct flights from Wuhan during the outbreak have case counts on and under the lower bound 95% PI (prediction interval) and have reported zero and one cases so far, while Thailand has the most reported cases but is still below the PI".

    Five researchers, who conducted the study, suggested "that outbreak surveillance and control capacity should be rapidly strengthened in those locations lying below the 95% PI lower bound to ensure cases are detected if occurring and avoid emergence of self-sustained transmission."

    Despite the study being widely referred to by some foreign news outlets, the article, according to the publisher, is a pre-print version and it has not been evaluated and passed peer-reviews.

    "It reports new medical research that has yet to be evaluated and so should not be used to guide clinical practice," medRxiv noted as a disclaimer to the study.