Indonesia is Worried about Vaccine Discrimination Trends in Several Countries

Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi emphasized that Indonesia was worried about the trend of vaccine discrimination that occurred in a number of countries. The discrimination, according to Retno, is an obligation for cross-country travelers to get additional vaccines from other brands, even though they have previously received two doses from brands that have received emergency use permits from the World Health Organization (World Health Organization/WHO).

“But they are still prohibited from entering the country or they may enter after receiving additional injections of vaccines recognized by their authorities,” said Retno at a press conference held virtually from New York, United States, Wednesday (29/9).

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi delivered her remarks during a press conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi in Jakarta, January 10, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana)

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi delivered her remarks during a press conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi in Jakarta, January 10, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana)

Therefore, Retno urged WHO, GAVI and Covax Facilities to work together to prevent such discrimination from occurring.

On the same occasion, Retno also revealed an estimate of a significant increase in the need for vaccines. It is estimated that the world will need around 11 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to meet the vaccination target of 70 percent of the global population by mid-2022.

According to Retno, the fulfillment of the vaccine needs can only be done through increasing the production capacity or supply of COVID-19 vaccine or sharing doses between countries.

“In order to share doses, I once again emphasize that countries with oversupply of doses must share their doses more transparently. (For example by) communicating delivery times and avoiding multiple doses of vaccines that have expired,” he said.

Retno also reminded that it is time for developing countries to be included in the global vaccine supply chain. Indonesia, for example, is ready to become a production center for the mRNA-platform COVID-19 vaccine for the Asia Pacific region. Meanwhile, South Africa has also built an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing center. According to Retno, South Africa’s steps must be replicated in other regions to accelerate vaccine production.

Police Chief Galih Apria gives a chicken gift to Jeje Jaenudin, a resident of Sindanglaya Village, receiving the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, during the pick-up and drop-off vaccination program in Cianjur, West Java, Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (Photo: Willy Kurniawan/Reuters)

Police Chief Galih Apria gives a chicken gift to Jeje Jaenudin, a resident of Sindanglaya Village, receiving the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, during the pick-up and drop-off vaccination program in Cianjur, West Java, Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (Photo: Willy Kurniawan/Reuters)

Community Immunity

On a separate occasion, the Head of the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, Professor Amin Subandrio, explained that to overcome the global COVID-19 pandemic, community immunity was needed (herd immunity) as widely as possible. Not only in one particular country, but all over the world.

Head of the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, Prof Amin Subandrio.  (Photo: Mouab/Nurhadi Sucahyo)

Head of the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, Prof Amin Subandrio. (Photo: Mouab/Nurhadi Sucahyo)

To achieve community immunity of 70 percent of the world’s population, very large doses of COVID-19 vaccine are needed.

However, Amin added that not all countries are able to produce or buy COVID-19 vaccines. Therefore, countries that have excess can help countries that do not have access to a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Controlling this pandemic worldwide, no can only be controlled by one country. A pandemic can only be considered finished if all countries or most of them are able to reduce the number of cases,” Amin said.

He emphasized that the sooner community immunity is achieved in many countries, the world can slow or stop the speed of the COVID-19 virus from mutating.

Regarding the government’s assessment to become the center for producing the COVID-19 vaccine with the mRNA platform in the Asia Pacific region, Amin said that in terms of research and development, Indonesia was ready. However, according to him, the government needs to increase its production capacity. [fw/ah]

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