The lead scientist on China's Sinovac vaccine trials in Indonesia died of suspected Covid-19 on Wednesday, Indonesian media announced.
Indonesia, which has relied on the Chinese-made vaccine for its health workers, is struggling with a new surge in coronavirus cases
Atleast 131 health care workers, mostly vaccinated with the Sinovac shot, have died since June
The lead scientist on China's Sinovac vaccine trials in Indonesia died of suspected Covid-19 on Wednesday, Indonesian media announced
Kumparan news service said Novilia Sjafri Bachtiar had died of the coronavirus. Sindonews quoted an official of state-owned pharmaceuticals company BioFarma as saying she had been buried according to Covid-19 protocols.
State enterprises minister Erick Thohir took to Instagram to post a message mourning her “huge loss” at BioFarma, which is making the vaccine. He did not give the cause of her death.
“She was lead scientist and head of dozens of clinical trials done by BioFarma, including Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials in cooperation with Sinovac,” he said. “It has been produced and injected into tens of millions people in Indonesia, as part of our effort to be free from this Covid-19 pandemic.”
According to a local tracking group, 131 health care workers, mostly vaccinated with the Sinovac shot, have died since June, including 50 in July.
Earlier last week, Indonesian health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin defended the country’s use of China’s Sinovac vaccine, blaming a surge of Covid-19 cases over the past month on the more contagious Delta variant.
Sadikin said it was wrong to blame the vaccine for the surge as countries like Israel and Britain, where most people were given the Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca jabs, were also experiencing surges.
“The issue that we are facing is not about the different efficacy between vaccines, it is primarily because of the Delta variant. It hits every country, so nobody is safe,” Budi said in a webinar held by the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club.
Indonesia is battling one of Asia's worst coronavirus outbreaks, fuelled by the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
On Wednesday, deaths caused by Covid-19 in Indonesia exceeded 1,000 per day for the first time, as the country battles to contain a resurgence of infections that has overwhelmed its medical system.
The nation reported 1,040 more deaths over the past 24 hours, double the number just a week ago, the latest ministry data shows. It also registered 34,379 new cases on Wednesday, another daily record.