Indonesia President Joko Widodo will Wednesday receive the country's first jab of China drugmaker Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine - kick-starting a mass public-health campaign.
Indonesia on Monday granted emergency use authorization for the Sinovac vaccine. Those on a priority list, which was drawn up last year to include health care workers and people aged 18 years to 59 years and the president, will be the first to get an initial 3 million doses available.
Muslim-majority Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world and has logged more than 836,700 confirmed virus cases. There have been more than 24,300 deaths associated with the virus. The inoculation plan for Indonesians to reach herd immunity is set at an estimated 67% of the country's population - or around 181.5 million people.
However, there are worries about transport of the vaccines to the country's thousands of islands - and religious resistance as a result of doubts the treat will be considered permissible to use under Islamic teachings.
But last week Indonesia's semiofficial authority on Islam, the Indonesian Council of Ulema, said the China vaccine was halal and it gave the green light for distribution.
Secretary of the council's fatwa commission Asrorun Niam said the commission "agreed that the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Sinovac is halal." The organization's approval is essential for its distribution.
Sinovac will deliver 45 million doses later this month to state-owned BioFarma for production.
Last month, researchers in Turkey found the Sinovac vaccine was 91.25% effective in interim analysis while a study in Brazil indicated it was 78% effective. Meanwhile, a late-stage clinical trial in Indonesia's Bandung showed that CoronaVac was 65.3% effective, according to the country's food and drug agency.
Other Southeast Asian countries due to receive the Sinovac vaccine are Thailand with 200,000 doses initially and the Philippines which is expecting a delivery of 25 million doses by March.
Indonesia has secured more than 329 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca and the partnership vaccine by BioNTech and Pfizer, too.