Indonesia says about 100mln AstraZeneca vaccine doses face arrival delays

Indonesia would receive 20mln doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine via a bilateral deal in 2021, instead of the 50mln doses initially agreed

  
A healthcare worker prepares a dose of AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine during a mass vaccination program for Green Zone Tourism in Sanur, Bali, Indonesia, March 23, 2021.

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine during a mass vaccination program for Green Zone Tourism in Sanur, Bali, Indonesia, March 23, 2021.

Reuters/Nyimas Laula

JAKARTA - Indonesia's health minister said on Thursday the schedule for around 100 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccines faced delays, as an official warned that supply issues could hamper the country's inoculation programme.

Health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin told a parliamentary hearing that Indonesia would receive 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine via a bilateral deal in 2021, instead of the 50 million doses initially agreed.

The remaining 30 million doses were due to be shipped by the second quarter of 2022, he said. Indonesia is also slated to receive 54 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in phases via the COVAX global-vaccine alliance scheme, though Budi said Indian export restrictions would delay shipments in April.

"That's something that we cannot accept and we're negotiating with AstraZeneca. So that's 100 million doses of vaccine whose schedule remains unclear," he said. AstraZeneca did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The corporate secretary of state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma, which is distributing the vaccine, declined to comment ahead of a statement from its chief executive.

Budi said that due to the delays the rate of vaccination would need to be accelerated between May and June and available doses would be earmarked for the elderly and teachers. Siti Nadia Tarmizi, a senior health ministry official, told Reuters the delays could impact Indonesia's programme "if we don't get other vaccines as replacements."

Besides AstraZeneca, Indonesia relies heavily on vaccines produced by China's Sinovac Biotech for its vaccination programme, which began in January and aims to reach 181.5 million people within a year in a bid to reach herd immunity.

Indonesia has administered at least one shot of vaccine to over 9.22 million people.

The Southeast Asian country has been struggling to get under control one of Asia's worst epidemics, having reported over 1.54 million coronavirus cases and 42,000 deaths as of Wednesday.

(Reporting by Stanley Widianto Editing by Ed Davies) ((Widianto.Stanley@thomsonreuters.com;))

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