JAKARTA, May 16 (Reuters) - Indonesia has suspended
distribution of a batch of AstraZeneca's coronavirus
vaccine to run tests for sterility and toxicity following the
death of a 22-year-old man a day after immunisation, the health
ministry said on Sunday.
The "CTMAV547" batch consists of 448,480 vaccine doses that
arrived in the Southeast Asian nation last month - part of a
delivery of more than 3.85 million doses from the COVAX
Facility, backed by the World Health Organization.
Some of the doses have been distributed in the capital city
Jakarta and the province of North Sulawesi, as well as given to
the military, the ministry said in a statement.
A national committee in charge of monitoring the effects of
novel coronavirus vaccination launched an investigation earlier
this month after a 22-year-old man in Jakarta died a day after
receiving an AstraZeneca shot.
The man received his dose from the CTMAV547 batch, health
ministry spokeswoman Siti Nadia Tarmizi told Reuters.
"This is a form of caution by the government to ensure the
safety of this vaccine," she said in a statement, adding that
distribution of other batches of AstraZeneca vaccines will not
The batch test could take at least two weeks, said the head
of the vaccine monitoring committee, Hindra Irawan Satari.
"After it is proven that it is sterile and does not contain
toxins, the use of the vaccine will be resumed. The fastest we
can get the results will be in two weeks," he said.
AstraZeneca Indonesia said it "respects" the government's
decision about the temporary suspension.
"We share the government's value that patient safety is the
highest priority and AstraZeneca has robust processes in place
for the collection, analysis, and reporting of adverse events,"
it said in the statement.
Since the start of the pandemic early last year, Indonesia
has recorded around 1.74 million cases of infection of the novel
coronavirus that causes the potentially fatal COVID-19
respiratory disease. The country's death toll stands at 48,093
as of Sunday.
The government has been pushing to accelerate its
vaccination programme to control the spread of the virus.
Official data showed that as of Sunday, nearly 9 million people
have been fully vaccinated.
(Writing by Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Clarence Fernandez,
Christopher Cushing, William Maclean)