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Indonesian clerics declare Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine halal

by Reuters
Friday, 8 January 2021 11:11 GMT

* Vaccination programme set to start next week

* Emergency use authorisation yet to be issued

* Indonesia records over 10,000 daily cases for first time

* Indonesia's 808,000 cases among Asia's highest (Adds details, background)

JAKARTA, Jan 8 (Reuters) - A COVID-19 vaccine produced by Sinovac Biotech is deemed halal, or permissible under Islam, the Indonesian Ulema Council said on Friday, days before the country is scheduled to start its inoculation programme using the Chinese vaccine.

Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country, has 3 million doses of CoronaVac and plans to use it when it starts its vaccination programme on Wednesday, with President Joko Widodo due to receive the first shot.

Asrorun Niam Sholeh of the council's fatwa commission told a news conference that Sinovac's CoronaVac was "holy and halal", although authorisation for its use still rests on Indonesia's food and drug agency (BPOM).

"This could be the information that could soothe the people, especially Muslims," Niam said.

Indonesia is struggling with the worst COVID-19 epidemic in Southeast Asia and authorities are relying on a vaccine to help alleviate the health and economic crises ravaging the country.

It confirmed a record daily rise in COVID-19 cases for the third consecutive day on Friday, reporting more than 10,000 daily infections for the first time and passing the 800,000 mark in cases, among the highest number in Asia.

It reported 10,617 new infections on Friday, taking total cases to 808,340. It has recorded 23,753 deaths.

Regulator BPOM has said it is hopeful that emergency use approval for CoronaVac, which depends on the results of the vaccine's Indonesian trials, will be issued before Wednesday.

CoronaVac was 78% effective in a late-stage Brazilian trial with no severe COVID-19 cases, researchers said on Thursday. (Reporting by Stanley Widianto and Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Editing by Martin Petty)

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