Indonesia: Muslim body declares Chinese vaccine halal

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Indonesia: Muslim body declares Chinese vaccine halalJAKARTA, Indonesia (AA): Indonesia’s top Muslim body on Friday declared China’s Sinovac vaccine for COVID-19 halal, or permissible under Islam.

In a news conference, Asrorun Niam, the secretary of fatwa (Islamic decree) commission of Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), said the decision was taken based on a plenary session discussing the ingredients and production processes for the coronavirus vaccine made by the Chinese company, Sinovac Lifescience Co.

However, he said the decision is not final as the body is still waiting for the final report from the Food and Drug Supervisory Agency (BPOM) regarding the vaccine’s safety, quality and efficacy.

The council said it has reviewed the report from the audit team who visited the Sinovac factory to check the production and quality of COVID-19 vaccine candidates in October.

Meanwhile, Penny Lukita, the head of BPOM, said the emergency use authorization (EUA) for Sinovac vaccine will be issued before Jan. 13, 2021.

Indonesia is set to start mass coronavirus vaccination next week, with President Joko Widodo set to be the first person to get the shot.

Earlier, as reported by the New York Times Sinovac told Indonesia’s state-owned drugmaker Bio Farma that the vaccines were “manufactured free of porcine materials”.

Bambang Heriyanto of Bio Farma confirmed receiving the statement but said the halal status would be decided by MUI.

Ahmad Ishomuddin, an official at Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s biggest mainstream Muslim organisation, said emergency vaccines that were not halal could be used if there were no other options.

At least 1.3 million health workers across the country will be prioritized in the campaign as well as Cabinet members, high-ranking officials and religious leaders.

Overall, the government is planning to vaccinate 181.5 million of its population within 15 months to achieve herd immunity.

As of Friday, Indonesia has reported 808,340 COVID-19 cases and 23,753 fatalities, according to the Health Ministry.

*Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo from Anadolu Agency’s Indonesian-language service in Jakarta

[Photo: Workers unload boxes containing Chinese Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine shortly after arriving in Surabaya, East Java, on January 4, 2021. Photographer: Suryanto/AA]

By Nicky Aulia Widadio