Indonesia’s top Islamic body OKs China’s Sinovac vaccine

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s highest Islamic body on Friday gave its religious approval to China’s Sinovac vaccine, paving the way for its distribution in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

The Indonesian Ulema Council announced that the COVID-19 vaccine is holy and halal, or fit for consumption by Muslims.

The head of the council’s Fatwa Department Asorirun Niam Sholeh also said that the complete fatwa, or religious edict, related to the safety of the vaccine is still waiting for the green light from the Indonesian Food and Drug Authority.

The drug regulator said it would draw from data of the clinical trials in Brazil and Turkey, as well as own trial results before authorizing use of the vaccine.

Indonesia has had its own late-stage clinical trials of the vaccine, but with smaller pool size than Brazil with just 1,620 participants. The clinical trial research team is expected to report the results to the regulator and state-owned pharmaceutical firm Bio Farma soon.

If given conditional approval, President Joko Widodo said that he will receive the first shot next week, with some of the ministers and senior officials, followed health care workers and other public servants.

Indonesia has signed agreements with Sinovac for millions of doses of the vaccine, which requires two shots. Some 3 million doses have already arrived in Indonesia and are being distributed across the vast archipelago nation in preparation for rollout.

Indonesia also has agreements with other vaccine companies including Novavax and AstraZeneca, though none has arrived in the country yet.

Indonesia recorded the highest daily toll with 10,617 on Friday. It brings the total to 808,340. It also recorded 233 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the toll to 23,753.

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Associated Press writer Victoria Milko contributed to this report.

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