Grace Nadia Chandra, Jakarta – AstraZeneca has begun delivering its Covid-19 vaccine to Indonesia, shipping more than one million doses on Friday, the first part of the country's 50 million direct order to the British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical company.
Oscar Primadi, the inspector-general of the Ministry of Health, received the vaccine in a virtual ceremony, witnessing the vaccine arrival at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Friday.
"Today's delivery marks an important milestone in the battle against the pandemic," Sewhan Chon, country president of AstraZeneca Indonesia, said in a statement on Friday.
Vaccination in Indonesia has been slow as bottlenecks in vaccine supply hindered the government's effort to vaccinate 208 million recipients. Today, only 39.6 million people have received their first dose of the vaccines.
Indonesia relied on Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech to supply 90 percent of its current vaccine stock in the forest a few months this year as supplies from other producers, like AstraZeneca, or American drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna, was already booked by developed countries.
The Sinovac vaccine comes in bulk and needs to go through the bottling process. State-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma, the government-appointed to procure the supply, had to spend the first few months of this year expanding its bottling capabilities, causing further delay.
The government, however, expected the vaccine supply would continue to improve beginning this month thanks to AstraZeneca deliveries that started arriving this month and Pfizer's 50 million doses shipment that will start arriving next month.
According to a timetable shared by the Ministry of Health last month, AstraZeneca would ship 4 million doses in August and 3.7 million doses in each subsequent month until December. The remaining 30 million doses will arrive next year.
"We look forward to a continued cooperation with the government and other key stakeholders working to support putting Indonesia further on the path to recovery from this devastating time," Chon said.
According to the Ministry of Health data, over 13.8 million AstraZeneca vaccines have been supplied to Indonesia via donations before today's delivery. Covax/GAVI, the global vaccination initiative supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), has shipped over 11.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, while the Japanese government donated 2.1 million doses.
AstraZeneca has released over 700 million doses of its vaccine to 170 countries around the globe by selling the vaccine for zero profit to Covax/GAVI and direct deliveries to governments.