TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - State pharmacy Bio Farma President Director Honesti Basyir hoped the government would immediately negotiate with Saudi Arabia on the Covid-19 vaccine for prospective hajj pilgrims. Previous reports suggested that the Saudi government only allowed the entry of pilgrims who have received a certain brand of vaccines.
“They give approval for entry of pilgrims with vaccines from Europe and the United States, namely Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca, while Indonesia only has one type among them, AstraZeneca,” said Honesti in a joint hearing with Commission VI of the House of Representatives at the Parliament complex, Senayan, Jakarta, Tuesday, May 25, 2021.
According to him, the government should immediately ask Saudi not to limit the types of vaccines for pilgrims given the limited availability of vaccines and to consider the number of pilgrims from Indonesia.
Bio Farma, he added, has discussed this diplomacy with the SOE Ministry, the Health Ministry, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and the Religious Affairs Ministry. “We ask Saudi to consider the vaccines because Indonesia does not have Pfizer yet. Johnson & Johnson also said they cannot supply vaccines to Indonesia in 2021 but 2022,” Honesti said.
Additionally, Sinovac vaccines used in the country is in the process to obtain an Emergency Use Listing Procedure (EUL) from the World Health Organization (WHO). Honesti said it will be confirmed in the first or second week of June.
Bio Farma also suggested another option that Indonesian would-be pilgrims who have received the Sinovac vaccine could be vaccinated again with AstraZeneca to meet the hajj rules set by Saudi Arabia if possible. However, Honesti asserted this option is entirely up to the expert team.
FRANCISCA CHRISTY ROSANA