Indonesia will Take Over 6 Months to Confirm Pandemic's End: Health Ministry
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - It would take more than six months to monitor the situation and confirm that the COVID-19 pandemic is over in Indonesia, Deputy Health Minister Dante Saksono Harbuwono has said.
"It's not time to mention the endemic phase. The current situation is a controlled pandemic. There are several more stages that must be passed," he informed after attending a hearing meeting (RDP) with Commission IX of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR) here on Monday night.
One of the parameters for Indonesia to enter a COVID-19 safe phase is maintaining an effective reproduction number (RT) of less than one for more than six months, he said.
RT reflects the number of additional cases that occurred in the community after various interventions were given to control the pandemic, such as the implementation of community activity restrictions (PPKM), COVID-19 vaccinations, and other measures implemented in Indonesia.
"There are several phases to enter the endemic, one of which is when the RT is less than one for more than six months," Harbuwono said.
Indonesia still needs to pursue the target of 70-percent complete vaccination for the entire population in order to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19 transmission, he added.
Based on the COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard of the Indonesian Health Ministry, the achievement of full-dose or two-dose vaccinations as of Monday afternoon stood at 166.9 million out of the target of more than 208 million.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not been the first to hit the world, the deputy minister noted.
"The Spanish Flu pandemic took two–three years. Some are missing (the virus, ed.) and some are still in the community. However, since the immunity is biologically accumulated and passed from mother to child, the virus subsides," he added.
The transition from the pandemic to the endemic phase, he said, will require the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, to disappear completely.
"It could happen, but this virus can stop spreading because there is an immune system. There are epigenetic adaptations, there are changes in genes that the body adapts so that the genes in the body make the body more immune than previous pandemics," he added.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that COVID-19 has not yet become endemic across the world, he stressed.
"But this is considered a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This means that this status is still being monitored and evaluated regularly, both clinically and in joint laboratories around the world," he said.
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