Saturday, February 27, 2021

Brazil and Indonesia testing Chinese vaccines

Brazil tests show the vaccine may be safe but Indonesia is concerned it may not be halal.

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An experimental Covid-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech, appears to be safe, preliminary results of a late stage clinical trial conducted in Brazil showed on Monday.

Sinovac is the first drug maker to disclose late stage trial results, putting China ahead in attempts to develop a vaccine, according to the South China Morning Post.

Sao Paulo’s Butantan Institute, one of Brazil’s leading biomedical research centres, said the vaccine, called Coronavac, proved to be safe after two doses were given to 9,000 volunteers. But Butantan director Dimas Covas said full data will not be released until it has been tested on all 15,000 volunteers.

Brazil has reported more than 5.2 million Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began and is the world’s third most affected country after the US and India.

Sao Paulo state health secretary Jean Gorinchteyn said the state is hoping to start inoculating its population early in 2021.

Meanwhile, Indonesia President Joko Widodo warned Indonesians on Monday against any rushed rollout of coronavirus vaccines, warning they may not be halal and therefore forbidden for Muslims to use, Reuters reports.

“I ask that this vaccine is not rushed because it’s so complex,” Jokowi said. “I want to ensure there is good preparation, especially in relation to halal and haram, the price, and quality.”

Indonesia has promised to vaccinate more than 100 million people next year, but Widodo said that scale of inoculation across the island nation of 270 million would be uniquely challenging.

The use of vaccines is a matter of constant debate around the world, and controversy over whether vaccines adhere to Islamic principles is not unknown in Indonesia. In 2018, the Indonesian Ulema Council issued a fatwa declaring a measles vaccine was haram.

In Surabaya, Indonesia, some doctors have even been attacked as they sought to slow the spread of Covid-19.

The city authorities organised Chinese vaccine testing for residents of a local apartment complex in September. The results of the swab tests “included a possible coronavirus infection for an unnamed male resident who suffers from underlying health conditions”, according to an Indonesian news outlet.

The following day, city healthcare workers visited the apartment complex but met with resistance from his family. “They smeared excrement on a healthcare worker’s hazmat suit,” Surabaya city spokesman Febriadhitya Prajatara told reporters.

As Indonesia debates the permissibility of vaccine use, confirmed cases of coronavirus are surging across the planet and have now passed 40 million, according to data released this week by Johns Hopkins University.

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