|A woman wearing a protective mask receives a dose of the AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at the Istora Senayan Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 16, 2021. (File photo by=REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana)
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] JAKARTA: Indonesia has extended the shelf life of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine to nine months, as nearly six million doses it received in donations were in danger of expiring, a health ministry spokesperson told Reuters on Tuesday (Mar 1).
The decision underscores challenges many developing countries face in their slow inoculation campaigns, as vaccines donated by wealthy countries arrive with a relatively short shelf life of just a few months or even weeks. Siti Nadia Tarmizi, a health ministry spokesperson, told Reuters it had six million doses of vaccines set to expire at the end of February, but only 200,000 of them had expired after it extended the shelf life of the AstraZeneca shot to nine months from six. "The food and drugs agency extended the expiry date ... based on new available data about its efficacy," she said.
The expired vaccines are from Sinovac and Moderna Inc and add to 1.1 million expired doses that Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said in January the country had discarded. Meanwhile, its shelf life of just six months from the date of bottling is the shortest among top suppliers to the COVAX global vaccine sharing scheme, several COVAX and EU officials said. Kurniasih Mufidayati, an Indonesian member of parliament overseeing health, called for the government to speed up vaccination on Monday.