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Asia Minute: Questions on Chinese Vaccine in Indonesia

Coronavirus Outbreak Indonesia
Tatan Syuflana/AP
A portrait of a woman is laid on her grave at the Rorotan Cemetery which is reserved for those who died of COVID-19, in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. Indonesia is facing a devastating second wave of coronavirus as hospitals grapple with soaring cases amid widespread shortages of oxygen and patients were increasingly dying in isolation at home. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

When it comes to COVID-19, this has been another difficult week in Indonesia. Hospitals are running out of room, the government is importing oxygen, and now even vaccinated health care workers are getting sick.

Almost every day this week has brought new records for the number of coronavirus cases in Indonesia—as well as the death toll from the virus, or both.

And health officials say both tallies are underreported across the country.

Now there’s a new concern. Some people who have been vaccinated are getting the virus, many with the more transmissible Delta variant—and not all are experiencing merely mild symptoms.

The most commonly used vaccine in the country by far is from China’s Sinovac.

The Indonesian Hospitals Association says about 95% of health care workers have been vaccinated—“overwhelmingly” with the Sinovac shot.

Reuters quotes what it calls an independent data group called Lapor COVID-19 as saying 131 healthcare workers have died since June, adding that most had Sinovac vaccines.

So far, Indonesia’s Health Ministry has not commented. Nor has Sinovac.

The Wall Street Journal reports the toll on vaccinated health care workers is slowing the response of medical care for COVID-19 patients.

On Wednesday, several local news outlets including the Kumparan news service reported the lead scientist on China’s Sinovac vaccine trials in Indonesia had died of the virus.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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