The head of the Indonesian Parliament’s Upper House has urged the Food and Drug Agency ( BPOM) to collaborate with one of Indonesia’s main Muslim organizations to greenlight the country’s Covid-19 vaccine.
“BPOM and the Ministry of Health should work closely with the Indonesian Ulama Council or MUI in testing the Covid-19 vaccine, and ensure that it meets the [Muslim] halal criteria,” said People’s Consultative Assembly ( MPR) chief Bambang Soesatyo in a written statement on November 24.
“This is needed to guard against public resistance or lack of compliance towards the vaccine on halal grounds, especially among devout Muslims.”
The Golkar Party stalwart advised BPOM and the Ministry of Health to ensure that the production facilities of the vaccine, the chemicals and raw materials that go into its manufacture, even its labelling and packing, meet halal standards and so are safe to use by the Indonesian public.
“The [Covid-19] vaccine manufacturing process should be transparent, so that the Indonesian public can get the information on the vaccine in a clear and open manner. The BPOM should supervise the vaccines from their arrival, distribution, and use to inoculate the public.”
“However, the government should also notify the people that the [Covid-19 vaccine] has yet to be distributed, so as to safeguard against hoaxes stating that it is already in Indonesia,” he added.
President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo’s administration has planned to bring in the Covid-19 vaccines to Indonesia by the end of November.
But the government might move back this deadline to next December or the beginning of 2021, as BPOM has yet to issue the Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccine.
While President Jokowi has yet to specify which vaccine will be used for Indonesia, the government is known to obtain commitments to procure vaccines with a number of foreign pharmaceutical companies.
They include Sinovac, Sinopharm and Cansino from China, as well as the AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company from Great Britain.