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Indonesia clerics declare China COVID vaccine ‘halal’

Indonesia’s Ulema Council on Friday gave its approval to a coronavirus vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac Biotech, deeming it to be permissible under Islam.

The council said the shot, named CoronaVac, was “holy and halal,” although the vaccine’s medical authorization still rests with Indonesia’s food and drug agency.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country by population, has received 3 million doses of CoronaVac and is due to begin its vaccination program within days.

The drug regulator said it would study data from the clinical trials of the vaccine in Brazil and Turkey, as well as its own trial results, before authorizing its use. Indonesia has held its own late-stage clinical trials of the vaccine, but with a smaller pool size than in other countries — of just 1,620 participants.

Researchers are expected to report the results to both the regulator and state-owned pharmaceutical firm Bio Farma.

Politicians first in line

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has said that, if the vaccine gets the go-ahead, he will receive the first shot next week with some ministers and senior officials, followed by health care workers and other public employees.

Jakarta has signed agreements with Sinovac for millions of doses of the vaccine, which requires two injections. Some 3 million doses have already arrived in the huge archipelago nation and are being distributed in preparation for rollout.

Indonesia has also signed agreements with other companies, including Novavax and AstraZeneca, which have yet to arrive.

The country recorded its highest daily number of new cases, 10,617 on Friday, bringing the total to 808,340. It also recorded 233 fatalities over 24 hours, taking the death toll to 23,753.

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