Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – Indonesia says that the imported vaccines are insufficient to create herd immunity against the foot-and-mouth disease that suddenly returned in May. The Southeast Asian country is also producing homegrown vaccines, but they still fall short of what is needed.
According to Wiku Adisasmito, the coordinator for the expert team at the foot-and-mouth disease task force, Indonesia mostly relies on imported vaccines to keep its livestock healthy.
"But the imported vaccines are insufficient to quickly meet our needs. Vaccine procurement takes time. What is even more challenging is that, unlike Covid-19, people can go to the vaccination posts on their own. But [for foot-and-mouth disease,] we need to physically take these vaccines to the animals and not all of them are in cages," Wiku told the press at a nationwide foot-and-mouth disease handling conference in Jakarta on Wednesday.
"Local vaccines are relatively still not that many. The Agriculture Ministry's veterinary pharma center [Pusvetma] has begun developing the vaccines but has only produced 500,000 doses so far. [...] We should immediately deploy the homegrown vaccines because we need to finish the existing imported vaccines as soon as possible," Wiku said.
Indonesia bought 29.6 million doses of imported vaccines. A 2022 Agriculture Ministry decree on foot-and-mouth disease showed that these vaccines came from France, China, Brazil, Argentina, Russia, Germany, and India.
Indonesia has received and distributed 10 million imported doses across the archipelago, according to Wiku. The government also reported that it had vaccinated at least 6.6 million animals susceptible to the disease. Wiku admitted that the vaccination rate is still not that high nationwide, although some regions had a quite robust vaccination drive.
"For instance, because of the G20 Summit, Bali's vaccination rate [for foot-and-mouth disease] has topped 85 percent," Wiku said.
The government said in August that it was aiming to produce 30 million doses of the homegrown vaccine by 2023. To date, Indonesia has ten provinces – including G20 Summit host Bali – that have not reported any new cases of foot-and-mouth disease. Bali is currently on a two-month streak for zero new reported cases.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Indonesia's foot-and-mouth disease tally reached 579,717 cases, of which 41,735 have yet to recover. About 13,176 animals had to undergo a test and slaughter. This technique involves conducting tests on the livestock for it later to be slaughtered if confirmed positive for foot-and-mouth disease. The disease has claimed the lives of 10,268 animals, government data showed.
"Just like Covid-19, what we are aiming for is herd immunity. The higher the vaccination rate, the lower the transmission. The virus would spread less and we would eventually be free [of the disease]," Wiku told reporters.