Can Sinovac protect Indonesia from the Omicron wave?

Most of the vaccinated in the archipelago have been given the Sinovac shot.

A woman in a yellow headscarf covers her face as a man in a hazmat suit walks along an alley spraying disinfectant
COVID-19 cases are surging again in Indonesia where less than 50 percent of people are fully vaccinated and mostly with the Sinovac vaccine [Bagus Indahono/EPA]

As a third wave of the pandemic begins to take hold across Indonesia, there are questions over its use of China’s Sinovac, after a series of studies suggesting the most commonly used COVID-19 vaccine in the Southeast Asian nation is no match for the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

On Friday, the country recorded 32,211 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, the highest official number since the Delta wave began to fade in mid-August.

The positivity rate for individuals tested reached 10.29 percent on the same day, pushing Indonesia well beyond the 5 percent threshold the WHO uses to identify countries that have lost control of the virus.

Only 45.9 percent of Indonesia’s target population of 208 million people has been fully vaccinated compared with the global average of 53.4 percent, according to Our World in Data, and 79 percent of those are with Sinovac, according to Indonesia’s Ministry of Health.

The pace of inoculation has slowed further since the start of the year as many districts and provinces are refusing to use vaccines other than Sinovac due to complaints about the adverse effects of the Western-developed vaccines, raising concern that the Omicron wave could become a repeat of the Delta-driven second wave, which saw the hospital system collapse.

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