More deaths among unvaccinated

Dose of protection: A woman getting inoculated against Covid-19 during a vaccination programme at the Naval Air Base in South Tangerang near Jakarta. — Reuters

The Covid-19 death rate for people in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta who were not vaccinated was more than three times higher than those who were, according to new health ministry data.

The mortality rate of those who were not vaccinated was 15.5% compared with 4.1% for those who had received two shots of either the Sinovac or AstraZeneca vaccine, according to data from state hospitals and almost 68,000 patients in Jakarta from May to July.

The South-East Asian country has been overwhelmed in recent months by a rapid spike in coronavirus cases, and on Wednesday it passed a grim milestone, recording a total of more than 100,000 deaths from Covid-19.

Yesterday, it recorded 35,764 new cases, bringing the total to 3,568,331 with the death toll adding by 1,739 to 102,375.

Global data on vaccinated versus unvaccinated deaths is not easily available but Dr Ines Atmosukarto, a molecular biologist who works on vaccine development, said the data was further evidence of the importance of vaccination.

“This supports the proposition that two doses of vaccines reduces the chance of dying for those infected and requiring hospitalisation,” she said, adding that the data lacked detail about the age, comorbidity and period of observation of the patients.

Separately, data from the town of Banyuwangi on Java island, showed that 93% of Covid-19 patients who died from March to July were not vaccinated, while 6% had received a first dose and 1% had been fully vaccinated.

Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines were also the vaccines predominately administered in that area.

Siti Nadia Tarmizi, a senior health ministry official, said the data could help combat vaccine hesitancy in Indonesia.

In Indonesia, 18% of the population have had one dose of a vaccine while 8% are fully vaccinated, according to the latest health ministry data.

By comparison, in India, 27.7% of the population have had one dose of a vaccine and 7.8 % are fully vaccinated, according to according to government data and research by Reuters.

India has had 425,700 deaths so far.

Grappling with the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant that was first identified in India, Indonesia has quickly become Asia’s coronavirus epicentre.

But as cases have begun to drop in Jakarta and some areas on Java, with the health minister saying this week that the country has reached the peak of its second wave, concerns remain that the Delta variant could still ravage far-flung regions ill equipped to handle a health crisis.

Irma Hidayana, a public health expert and co-founder of independent data initiative Lapor Covid-19, said vaccine distribution issues including infrastructure and data, as well as vaccine hesitancy, had hampered the government’s vaccine rollout.

“The ministry of health needs to have well-planned vaccine distribution which ensures that all vulnerable people are the top priority,” she said.

“The government must ensure that vaccines are evenly and equally distributed.” — Reuters

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