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COVID-19 vaccine will be halal: Minister Airlangga

Jakarta Post - October 12, 2020

Jakarta – The Indonesian government has initiated various efforts to secure access to a COVID-19 vaccine.

Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto, who also helms the national economic recovery and COVID-19 response team, said in a virtual meeting on Monday that the government aimed to secure 320 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

When asked about its halal status, Airlangga explained that the government had consulted with the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) to ensure the vaccine would receive halal certification.

"[We have discussed it] with MUI and insya Allah [God Willing] the vaccine will be halal," he said. The halal status of potential COVID-19 vaccines has been a major concern for many.

Earlier this month, Vice President and senior Muslim cleric Ma'ruf Amin said the potential COVID-19 vaccine currently being developed by the government did not have to be halal.

Vice presidential spokesperson Masduki Baidowi said Maruf's statement was made during a meeting with Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan about progress in the development of the vaccine candidate currently being developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac in partnership with state-owned pharmaceutical firm PT Bio Farma.

Tempo.co reported on Monday that the COVID-19 Vaccine Inspection Team, which comprises the Indonesian Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM), the Health Ministry, MUI and representatives of PT Bio Farma, would fly to China on Oct. 14 to inspect the quality and halal status of the Sinovac and Cansino vaccine candidates.

"The halal status of the Sinovac and Cansino [potential] vaccines will be guaranteed through MUI participating in the data research process," Bio Farma president director Honesti Basyir said in a statement on Monday.

With regard to COVID-19 vaccine procurement, Airlangga said the government was working to secure a vaccine supply in the fourth quarter of this year.

He explained that British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca had committed to provide 100 million doses of a vaccine to Indonesia.

He added that Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir and Foreign Ministesr Retno LP Marsudi were currently preparing the first 50 million doses of a vaccine.

Airlangga also said that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had signed Presidential Regulation No. 99/2020 on vaccine procurement. When asked about the status of the vaccine candidate currently being developed by Sinovac in partnership with Bio Farma, he replied that the result would be released in December, according to the plan.

In addition to developing vaccines, the government has also discussed vaccine procurement with other pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. Based on the plans, Airlangga said he was certain the government would have a sufficient vaccine supply for the country. (jes)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/10/12/covid-19-vaccine-will-be-halal-minister-airlangga.html