TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Center for the Syarikat Islam Ideological Defense (Perisai) Secretary General Harjono made an earnest request to Indonesian authorities to guarantee the halal status of China's Sinovac vaccine before massive use for the government's COVID-19 vaccination program.
To this end, the Indonesian Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) should also have concluded its comprehensive and stringent study on the vaccine before granting its emergency use authorization (EUA) for safety reasons, he notified journalists in Jakarta on Saturday.
Harjono contended that the status of halal, or religiously acceptable according to Muslim law for consumption, and safety of this Chinese vaccine are indispensable and crucial determining factors in the wake of its imminent massive administration amid the fact that the percentage decrease in the incidence of diseases among those in the vaccinated groups remains unknown.
Harjono also sought continued transparency from the BPOM pertaining to the research process and comprehensiveness in conducting its scientific study on the Chinese vaccine before approving its distribution by taking public safety into account.
"The BPOM must be careful and transparent in the research process because the importance of people's safety goes beyond everything. There must be scientific standards, applied by the agency, for the sake of accountability," he remarked.
In its place, Harjono urged communities to support and oversee clinical trials of the vaccine to ensure that the standardization process of examinations are fulfilled before the BPOM issues its EUA.
To this end, he drew attention of the agency to not ignore any scientific standardization of the clinical trials of the Sinovac vaccine for the sole objective of meeting a "deadline".
"We believe there is a targeted time frame and achievement that the government is keen to secure. However, the BPOM is expected to remain committed to strictly applying the scientific standardization to guarantee efficacy, quality, and safety for the community," he remarked.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 Handling and National Economic Recovery Working Committee Chairperson Airlangga Hartarto earlier revealed that the BPOM has been awaiting the clinical test result and data from China's Sinovac Biotech before issuing its EUA.
"We are optimistic of the BPOM soon issuing the emergency use authorization, and now, it still awaits data from Sinovac and the result of a clinical trial conducted in Bandung (West Java) and Brazil, scheduled for completion on December 15," Hartarto, concurrently the coordinating minister for economic affairs, noted on December 14, 2020.
The government has consistently expressed confidence that the COVID-19 vaccine would help contain the pandemic that has posed a grave threat to public health and economy.
Over the past few months, it has endeavored to secure potential COVID-19 vaccines for Indonesians through bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
Indonesia is cooperating with China and the United Kingdom for the procurement and supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
The government is also supporting research efforts towards developing the country's own COVID-19 vaccine, Merah Putih (Red and White), named after the colors of the national flag.
Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan recently revealed that the government will likely commence the first phase of COVID-19 immunization in the third week of December this year.
The government is awaiting EUA from the BPOM to commence the first phase of the program.