By Wahyu Triwahyudi
As I am writing this, Covid-19 cases in Indonesia are now surging towards the peak of the second wave of Covid-19 cases. Most people would agree that the second wave is worse than the first one back in mid-2020. For several days in a row, the daily rate keeps increasing, reaching the highest daily number yet of more than 24,000 cases. Many people that I know (friends, relatives, and working colleagues) who are mostly living in Jakarta, have been infected and impacted. Bad news due to the second wave of the pandemic keeps coming in the media, and once again Covid-19 becomes the biggest concern of many people. Java and Bali are back to “lockdown” status this month, and most likely other regions will follow.
But there is also good news. After some concerns due to a slow rate, the vaccination rate in Indonesia is now rapidly increasing. The Indonesian Government has applied a more robust approach to the vaccination programme. Administering Covid-19 vaccines is currently not only the government’s and its hospitals’ duty, it is everyone’s business. Companies/private sectors, police and army, public facilities, non-government organisations, religious services, airlines, hotels, and many other stakeholders have participated in vaccinating people. It reached the highest daily figure of 1.6 million vaccine jabs on 26 June. Even though globally, the vaccination rate in Indonesia is still behind, the second wave of the pandemic has made
the government raise the bar. The target is to reach 2 million daily jabs starting in August 2021, which will lead to 181 million Indonesians having been vaccinated by the end of 2021. That requires numerous doses of vaccines to be available in the country. After a long period of vaccine shortage in Indonesia, due to a low supply at the global level, the curve of an influx of vaccines in Indonesia has been climbing really steeply these days. Where are they sourced from? In addition to the widely used Sinovac vaccine, the government purchases and gets vaccine assistance from various countries. Putting the debate on vaccine quality aside, an additional 14 million doses of China’s Sinovac Biotech have just arrived in Indonesia on 30 June. This will contribute to the 85 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine planned to be available by August. Japan’s assistance of 998,400 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine arrived on 1 July, and 1.1 million more doses will follow. 4 million doses of the Moderna vaccine from the US will arrive this month. The Netherlands government has just committed to immediately send 3 million doses of vaccine. The UK will most likely follow with a similar commitment. Australia has just committed to grant funds for Indonesia to purchase around 10 million doses of vaccine.
What about New Zealand? NZ has been supporting Indonesia in fighting with Covid-19 since the first wave of the pandemic. NZ government has granted funds to various organisations in Indonesia to work on increasing resilience and protection against Covid-19 among grassroots rural communities. The funds were utilised to support farmers, fishermen, and local traders whose health and livelihood were impacted severely by Covid-19. This year NZ’s support is even more strategic: granting funds for vaccine distribution, vaccine campaigns, and monitoring of vaccine provision. Such support is provided to ensure the roll-out of mass vaccination in Indonesia is on track to meet the government’s target. In terms of supplying vaccines, NZ Government through its multilateral channel, is one of the major funders of the Covax Facility, a global vaccine support facility aiming to provide vaccines to middle and low-income countries. Through the Covax Facility, NZ has contributed to bringing in 6.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Indonesia out of 13 million doses in the pipeline for this year.
So far, we have heard sad and worrying news about what is going on in the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Especially in Indonesia, the kind of life that we could hardly have imagined is happening now with so many restrictions and limitations in place to curb the infection rates. We have heard what happened in India a couple of months ago. While that country is recovering now, we do not want Indonesia to go on the same path as India. We do not know what the Covid-19 infection rates in Indonesia look will like in the next few weeks. But knowing that NZ and many international communities are supporting Indonesia’s vaccination campaign, gives us hope that we will see light at the end of the tunnel quite soon.