JAKARTA: Indonesia is hoping to ramp up its COVID-19 vaccination drive to administer up to 2.5 million jabs a day by September and eventually achieve a daily rollout of 5 million doses, its Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan said.
In an exclusive interview with CNA on Wednesday (Jul 28), the minister noted that the national vaccination programme is progressing well.
“For the next one or two weeks it is going to be a much better situation. This month it is still around 1 million per day, but next month, we can go up to 1.5, to maybe even up to 2 million jabs every day,” he said.
Mr Pandjaitan, who is also in charge of Indonesia’s pandemic response, said President Joko Widodo had reminded him about the target of 5 million jabs a day.
“I believe we can do it.
“Well, we have to do it gradually. So, if this coming month we are successful to do 2 million, I think by September, maybe 2.5 million or so. So I’m quite confident because we have to move very fast in order to contain COVID-19,” he said.
This would pave the way to achieve Indonesia’s target of fully vaccinating 208 million people, raised from the initial target of 181.5 million.
“Well basically we are talking first 181 million, that I think our target can reach by January February next year. But we will try hard to make it earlier. So that's why the president said: can we do it for 4 or 5 million a day, because we, how long are we going to be like this?"
Indonesia has recorded over 3.3 million COVID-19 cases so far. An all-time high of over 2,069 deaths was reported on Tuesday and national fatalities stood at more than 90,000.
More than 19 million people have been fully vaccinated across the archipelago.
Many people who tested positive for COVID-19 have to be isolated at home due to bed shortage at hospitals. Some died at home as they could not access hospital care.
Mr Pandjaitan said the issue was about how to convince the people, especially the elderly or those with comorbidities, to move to the quarantine centres after they tested positive.
“Because of their culture, they feel very comfortable staying with the family. This is a problem because they could be creating a new cluster,” he said.
The army and police would be deployed to bring COVID-19 patients to quarantine centres, he said.
“The problem of the number of deaths yesterday was very painful for us, 2,000. We like to see this number decline next coming week, so we are quite confident, because we deploy our TNI (the Indonesian National Armed Forces) and our police to support, to convince, to bring them peacefully to the quarantine."
Describing the COVID-19 pandemic as the biggest test on solidarity that the country has ever faced, the minister said this particular crisis, quite unlike earthquakes that happen in one area, affected the whole archipelago.
“But, we are lucky right now we are able to set up our strategy to control per island, per area, like Bali. Bali for instance has vaccinated over 85 per cent, soon going to be around 90 per cent.
“So, Bali we don't have a problem, because we are preparing Bali for the G20. So, we hope by the end of this year Bali could claim, I'm not saying zero cases, but they are going to be stable," he said.
Mr Pandjaitan said the government has started to prepare a roadmap to move towards living with COVID-19. People might have to still wear a mask and bring along their vaccination cards when they travel, he said.
“There are many things that we are exploring right now, and we see and then make the roadmap of this, how do we do this.
“I don’t think that our economy, in any economy globally, can be like this forever. We have to change our attitude, our behaviour, our habits, whatever, in order to still, you know, survive,” the minister said.