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Indonesia: Lead scientist in charge of Sinovac vaccine trial dies of COVID-19

On Wednesday (July 7), Indonesian media reported that the main scientist in charge of the Sinovac vaccine trial in Indonesia had died and was suspected of being infected with Wuhan pneumonia (COVID-19).

Sinovac China’s new corona virus vaccine. (Photo: gungpri / Shutterstock).

At the time of the death of Novilia Sjafri Bachtiar, who was in charge of the Sinovac vaccine trial, the death toll from the epidemic in Indonesia was also increasing to a record high. Indonesia is one of the most widely used countries of China’s Sinovac vaccine.

The Kumparan News reported that Ms. Novella died of the new corona virus (Chinese virus). SINDOnews quoted an official from the state pharmaceutical company BioFarma as saying she was buried according to COVID-19 procedures.

State Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir posted a message on Instagram saying he expressed condolences over Ms Novilla’s death, calling her death a “great loss” for BioFarma. He did not specify the cause of her death.

“The deceased was a lead scientist and was in charge of dozens of clinical trials conducted by BioFarma, including a clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine in collaboration with Sinovac,” said Thohir. .”

BioFarma did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment on Novilla’s death.

The increase in the number of infections and deaths among Indonesian healthcare workers after being vaccinated with Sinovac has raised questions about the effectiveness of the Sinovac vaccine in preventing hospitalization and death. died after contracting COVID-19.

Reuters reported that, according to data from independent data group Lapor COVID-19, 131 medical workers, mostly vaccinated with Sinovac, have died since June, including 50 in July. .

Eka, who was fully vaccinated with Sinovac, was eventually hospitalized with severe COVID-19 symptoms last month. “Many of my colleagues don’t have significantly increased levels of antibodies after the Sinovac injection, which means they don’t have a high level of protection against infection,” he told Reuters.

The BBC reported that local doctors were reluctant to ask questions publicly, but privately admitted that they were both skeptical. An unnamed thoracic surgeon said that although she had completed two doses of Sinovac vaccine, a month later, she checked the level of antibodies to the new corona virus in her blood and found that the effectiveness was poor. much more than expected.

When interviewed by the BBC in Indonesian, she described the vaccine as having no effect and that she still had no antibodies in her body. “I did the test again a month later, and the results were the same.” She revealed that some of her colleagues had better results, but for her the vaccine was almost useless.

Indonesia first reported on Wednesday that more than 1,000 people died from COVID-19 in just one day, and the number of infections hit a record 34,379. The latest wave of infections is caused by the Delta variant, which was first detected in India.

In Thailand, where most medical staff are vaccinated with Sinovac, a document has recently leaked. According to Reuters, this is a leaked internal memo from the Thai Ministry of Health showing that an unnamed official advised front-line health workers not to receive an additional third dose of the Pfizer vaccine, because because this means admitting that “the Sinovac (China) vaccine is not effective”. When this comment was made public, on the contrary, Thailand’s public health experts strongly urged that Thai health workers need to be injected with Pfizer. The hashtag “Giving Pfizer to medical workers” is trending on Thai Twitter with more than 624,000 tweets on Monday.

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