Indonesia’s Food and Drug agency (BPOM) said on Friday it has approved the usage of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after reviewing reports that it had caused blood clots among some recipients in Europe.
The agency said that even though vaccination could lead to “adverse events” following immunisation, “the risk of death from COVID-19 is much higher.”
“The benefits of giving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the risks,” the agency said in a statement.
Distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccine would start by next Monday, health ministry official Siti Nadia Tarmizi said.
“The earlier we distribute the vaccine, the earlier we can get out of this pandemic,” she told a news conference.
“Do not be afraid to be vaccinated.”
BPOM did, however, caution against the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people with a low blood platelet count, known as thrombocytopenia, and blood clotting disorders.
Asrorun Niam Sholeh, from the Indonesia Ulema Council on Friday said that despite being deemed haram, or not permissible according to Islam, the council had approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for use given the emergency situation.
Indonesia has been grappling with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Asia – with 1,437,283 cases and 38,915 deaths.
Like many countries, Indonesia had delayed administering the AstraZeneca vaccine following some reports of blood clots among people who received the vaccine in Europe, saying it was awaiting the results of a review by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The European Medicines Agency this week said there was no indication the events were caused by the vaccination, a view echoed by the WHO. AstraZeneca also said its review had shown no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots.
Indonesia kicked off its vaccine programme in January, using the Sinovac Biotech CoronaVac vaccine.
Indonesia received 1.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine via the COVAX vaccine-alliance scheme this month and is set to receive some 10 million more in the next two months.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)