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Indonesia’s lead Sinovac scientist dies of suspected Covid-19, at least 131 vaccinated health workers have died since June

Indonesian health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin last week defended the country’s use of China’s Sinovac vaccine by pinning the blame of the surge in Covid-19 cases on the Delta variant.

The Indonesian media on Wednesday reported the death of their lead scientist on China’s Sinovac vaccine trials. According to reports, Novilla Sjafri Bachtiar died due to COVID-19. The death of Novilia Sjafri Bachtiar comes after as many as 131 health care workers, mostly vaccinated with the Sinovac shot have died since June, including 50 in July.

Kumparan news service confirmed that Novilia had died of the coronavirus while another local news agency- Sindonews quoted an official of state-owned pharmaceuticals company BioFarma as saying that she had been buried according to Covid-19 protocols.

State enterprises minister Erick Thohir posted a long message mourning a “huge loss” at BioFarma, the company which is making the vaccine, however, he did not give the cause of her death.

Instagram post by Erick Thohir

Indonesian health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin last week defended the country’s use of China’s Sinovac vaccine by pinning the blame of the surge in Covid-19 cases on the Delta variant.

Giving the example of countries like Israel and Britain who are also allegedly experiencing a surge despite administrating Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca, Sadikin said it was wrong to blame the vaccine.

“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,” he said while addressing a webinar held by the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club.

Indonesia reported 1,040 more deaths over the past 24 hours, double the number just a week ago as it experiences Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks. 

As per a CNN report, Sinovac spokesman Liu Peicheng while speaking with Reuters asserted that the ‘preliminary results showed the vaccine produced a three-fold reduction in neutralizing effect against the Delta variant.’

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