Indonesia receives 1.8 million more doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine

FILE PHOTO: An official checks on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd. as they arrive at PT Bio Farma (Persero) in the first shipment to Indonesia in Bandung, West Java province, Indonesia, December 7, 2020. Courtesy of Muchlis Jr/Indonesian Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia received its second batch of coronavirus vaccines from Sinovac on Thursday, the country’s foreign and health ministers said, as the world’s fourth most populous country prepares a mass inoculation programme.

The government took delivery of 1.8 million doses of the Chinese vaccine, adding to the 1.2 million it received on Dec. 6, and aims to vaccinate its 267 million population for free, starting with frontline health workers.

“Before people return to work in January, vaccines can be distributed to 34 provinces, so that we can start a vaccination programme for health workers,” health minister, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, said in a live telecast.

“It will take us more than 12 months to complete this vaccination programme,” Budi added.

The country is expecting to receive coronavirus vaccines from AstraZeneca and Pfizer before the end of the year and by the first week of January respectively, having agreed to buy 50 million doses of each vaccine.

It is still awaiting authorisation to start using the Sinovac vaccines.

In total, Indonesia has secured 329 million vaccine doses, including about 125 million from Sinovac, 50 million from Novavax and 54 million from the global vaccine programme COVAX.

The country has recorded over 727,000 COVID-19 cases and 21,700 deaths, among Asia’s highest tallies.

Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe; Writing by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Martin Petty