Indonesia plans to vaccinate 9 million people with an experimental vaccine developed by Chinese drugmaker Sinovac Biotech in December, a senior government minister announced Wednesday.
Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said vaccinations "would likely start in the third week of December 2020."
The Indonesian government will give vaccinations to "nine million people in specific areas that we believe contribute greatly to handling the high number of Covid-19 cases," Pandjaitan said. "In Jakarta, for instance, there are several areas that we believe contribute significantly to the tally of Covid-19 cases, and (we will) give them a shot."
The vaccination drive is separate from Phase 3 clinical trials for Sinovac, taking place in West Java in conjunction with Indonesia's state-owned biotechnology company Bio Farma.
Indonesian authorities said the vaccinations will put the country on track to lift restrictions in popular tourist destination Bali -- planned to reopen in early 2021.
"We are keen to see Bali become a green zone, which is our target. We are optimistic that Bali is becoming a green zone at the start of next year, as we will commence vaccinations in the third week of December," Panjaitan remarked.
Indonesia has recorded a total of 421,731 coronavirus cases and 14,259 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.