Indonesia has approved Sinovac Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in the elderly, a letter from the food and drug agency shows, potentially changing the country’s strategy which has prioritised its working population first.
That strategy was partially due to limited data on the vaccine’s safety for the elderly, authorities have said.
The food and drug agency (BPOM) said in a letter seen by Reuters that it had authorised the use of Sinovac’s CoronaVac for the elderly “taking into account the emergency situation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the limited information on the benefits and safety of that vaccine”.
It was sent to Sinovac’s Indonesian partner, state-owned Bio Farma.
Wiku Adisasmito, spokesman for the country’s COVID-19 task force, confirmed the authenticity of the letter.
Bio Farma confirmed receiving the letter but did not provide further details.
A rollout of Sinovac’s vaccine in Indonesia last month involved 3 million doses and was aimed at medical workers and public servants.
Government data shows nearly 800,000 have received their first shot but authorities said they are set to produce 25 million more by the end of March.
Indonesia, which has suffered more than 31,000 deaths from COVID-19, aims to vaccinate more than 180 million people, or roughly two-thirds of its population of 270 million, within a year.