Thursday, 29 Jul 2021

Indonesian state pharma delays plan to sell Covid-19 vaccines amid public backlash

JAKARTA (BLOOMBERG) – Indonesia’s state-owned pharmaceutical company Kimia Farma is delaying a plan to sell Covid-19 vaccines after public backlash against the move.

The company will focus on preparing the programme first, said Mr Ganti Winarno Putro, a spokesman for the company.

Kimia Farma was earlier set to market Sinopharm’s shots, which were ordered for a private vaccination programme, as soon as Monday (July 12).

The plan was met with questions on why the vaccines are being sold and why any company is allowed to profit from it.

Indonesia offers free Covid-19 vaccines through a public programme, alongside a private campaign organised by the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and bankrolled by the participating companies to get their employees inoculated sooner.

As the public programme was expanded to all adults, many of the shots ordered by the private programme are left unused. These can be offered for sale, said Mr Bambang Heriyanto, a spokesman for Bio Farma, parent of Kimia Farma.

“The aim is to expand access to the public to get their first dose of vaccine,” Mr Bambang said, adding that buying the shots can be an option for people who have not been covered by the government programme and who are not registered with companies that carry out private vaccinations.

South-east Asia’s largest economy is struggling to contain a resurgence of coronavirus infections driven by the Delta variant that has overwhelmed its medical system.

While it has been meeting its goal of giving out one million shots each day this month, the 51 million doses administered so far have only covered about a tenth of its population.

Kimia Farma was planning to sell the shots in eight clinics in several cities including Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya and Bali in the first stage.

The company has prepared 5,000 doses for each clinic, with a total vaccination capacity of around 1,700 people per day. The price was set at 879,140 rupiah (S$82) for two complete doses, as regulated by the health ministry.

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