Indonesia’s food and drug agency has recommended the COVID-19 vaccine made by China’s Sinovac Biotech for children aged 12-17, the country’s COVID-19 task force said, as the country seeks to extend inoculations amid a surge in infections.

Indonesia has reported record daily rises in cases of more than 20,000 recently after the emergence of virus variants and travel after the Muslim fasting month has helped drive a new wave of infections.

Task force spokesman Wiku Adisasmito welcomed the food and drug agency’s (BPOM) recommendation and said “the government invites the people to still wait for the issuance of emergency use approval from BPOM.”

Penny K. Lukito, the head of BPOM, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the timing of such a ruling.

Indonesia has been using Sinovac as the main plank for its vaccination programme after receiving about 94 million doses, while it has received about 10 million made by AstraZeneca and Sinopharm.

Image: Shutterstock

Task force data shows children aged 0-18 account for 12.6% of Indonesia’s total COVID-19 infections.

The World Health Organization (WHO) approved emergency use of Sinovac’s vaccine this month, saying results showed it prevented symptomatic disease in 51% of recipients and prevented severe COVID-19 and hospital stays.

The Southeast Asian country is under pressure to speed up vaccinations with hospitals in several designated “red zone” reporting overcapacity and with 93% of isolation beds in Jakarta occupied as of Sunday.

Indonesia reported it had given 1.3 million vaccine shots on Saturday, the highest daily count since the programme began in January. About 13.18 million people have received both shots as of Monday, government data showed.

REUTERS | JAKARTA

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