A coronavirus vaccine manufactured by China's Sinovac Biotech has been deemed halal, or permissible under Islamic laws, Reuters and other news sources reported, citing Indonesia's Ulema Council.
Indonesia, the biggest Muslim-majority nation in the world, has 3 million CoronaVac doses and is looking to use the treatment when the government kicks off its immunization campaign on Wednesday, with President Joko Widodo expected to be given the first shot.
The director of the council's Fatwa Department Asorirun Niam Sholeh said that the complete fatwa, or religious decree, in connection to the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine still awaits the final approval of the Indonesian Food and Drug Authority.
Indonesia's Food and Drug Control Agency chief, Penny Lukito, said that the outcome of third stage tests of the Sinovac vaccine in Turkey and Brazil showed it had 91 percent and 78 percent efficacy, respectively. The Chinese biotech is also launching a similar clinical test in Indonesia, but data is still pending, Lukito said.
Sinovac is also set to roll out 45 million doses of the vaccine in a bulk shipment later this month for manufacture by Indonesia's government-run pharmaceutical group BioFarma, officials said.
Airlangga Hartarto, Indonesia's chief economic official, on Wednesday said the government will enforce two weeks of heightened pandemic restrictions in major parts of its heavily populated island of Java including the resort island of Bali starting January 11, in a bid to support medical facilities and minimize death figures.
Indonesia is struggling with the worst coronavirus crisis in Southeast Asia and health officials are pinning their hopes on a vaccine to help ease the economic and health crises that is overwhelming the archipelago.
As of Friday, Indonesia registered the biggest daily number with 10,618. The figure brings the total to 808,341. The country has also reported 233 fatalities in the last 24 hours, taking the figure to 23,754.
Indonesia is proposing to inoculate 182 million people, or around 67 percent of its total population, to attain the so-called herd immunity, its health minister, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, said.
Indonesia has also placed orders to acquire 50 million COVID doses from AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech.
Meanwhile, Philippines' representative to China, Chito Sta, Romana, said China's vaccine companies Sinovac and Sinopharm would apply for an emergency use authorisation this week with the Philippines' Food and Drug Administration.
Manila targets to complete deals with Sinovac Biotech to buy 25 million vaccine doses for delivery by March. Thailand, for its part, expects to get 200,000 CoronaVac doses by February, 800,000 in March and another 1 million by April.