The Australian government has stepped in to assist Indonesia in its battle to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the country, pledging 2.5 million doses of the locally manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine.
Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world, is grappling with a second wave of the pandemic.
Since March, the country has recorded an average of four to five thousand new infections per day. However, in June, the rate began to climb, reaching a record high of 31,189 cases on July 6.
The Australian government will deliver $12 million worth of oxygen-related and other medical equipment, including 1,000 ventilators, over 700 oxygen concentrators, and more than 170 oxygen cylinders, as well as other medical supplies.
Australia will also be sending 40,000 rapid-antigen test kits, following in the footsteps of the U.S. government’s pledge to deliver four million doses of the Moderna vaccine in early July.
“Australia stands with our close partner and neighbour Indonesia as it responds to a significant surge in COVID-19 cases,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement on July 7.
“Today, I spoke with my friend and counterpart, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, and confirmed immediate health support to Indonesia, in its response.”
So far, Indonesia has recorded 62,848 deaths from the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
Included in the tally is 946 health workers. In June, new data revealed 350 Indonesian health workers, including doctors and nurses, had been hospitalised with COVID-19 despite many of them receiving China’s Sinovac vaccine.
The Indonesian government has administered 47.4 million vaccine doses to its population so far. It has contracts to receive AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Novavax vaccines. However, Sinovac has dominated the vaccine supply so far.
Questions have been raised over the efficacy of Sinovac after the World Health Organisation (WHO) approved emergency use of the vaccine in June.
Late-stage clinical trials show Sinovac had a reported efficacy of 50.4 percent, just above the 50 percent threshold set by the WHO.
The Indonesian government is now considering booster shots to bolster the fight against the virus.
Dr. Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist from Griffith University, said the efficacy of Sinovac was dropping as new variants entered the country.
“In July, the number of cases began increasing, and that’s exactly around six months after Sinovac vaccinations began in January. So, it seems that at a certain level Sinovac’s efficacy has been decreasing,” he told The Epoch Times.
“And it seems that the efficacy against the Delta variant is not as strong as what it was against the previous variant,” he added, noting that booster shots were needed for the public.
Budiman welcomed the aid being provided by the Australian government, saying it was a “great contribution” and that it would strengthen bilateral ties between Australia and Indonesia.
“It’s sending a message to the world that we cannot deal with this pandemic only regionally or nationally, but that we need global collaboration. And the vaccine is one strategic tool to deal with this pandemic,” he said.