China’s mRNA COVID vaccine approved in Indonesia

The decision is surprising because there are no indications of efficacy yet

Indonesia has given permission for emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by a Chinese company, becoming the first country to administer the vaccine, ahead of even China.

Indonesia’s Food and Drug Administration (BPOM) has given the go-ahead for the use of Walvax Biotechnology’s mRNA vaccine, which has been in development for more than two years and targets the original strain of the coronavirus.

Penny Luquito, head of the agency, told reporters that the vaccine, now known as AWcorna, is 71.17 percent effective against the highly contagious Omicron variant and 83.58 percent against other types of coronavirus strains considered common and normal.

Walvax did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

China has several mRNA candidates in development, but Walvax’s vaccine is the only candidate in large, late-stage clinical trials.

It is not yet clear how widely the newly approved injection will be used in Indonesia, where more than 63% of the population is fully vaccinated. Health experts around the world also recommend the use of the so-called bivalent COVID vaccines that target both the original strain and the Omicron variant.

Indonesia also uses mRNA COVID vaccines produced by Pfizer -BioNTech and Moderna, but the AWcorna injection has a longer shelf life, remaining stable at 2-8 °C for at least six months.

This could make the vaccine ideal for countries with poor logistics in remote areas. Indonesia is an archipelago of thousands of islands.

The BPOM said the vaccine’s less stringent storage requirements are appropriate for Indonesia, which is a tropical country, and it can be used as both a primary and booster vaccine for adults.

The vaccine will be produced locally by the Indonesian company Etana Biotechnologies.

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