US to ship 4 million vaccine doses to Indonesia ‘as soon as possible’

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The United States will ship 4 million doses of Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine to Indonesia as it battles a coronavirus outbreak, the US national security adviser told the Indonesian foreign minister on Friday.

In a call with Retno Marsudi, Jake Sullivan said the doses would be shipped via the COVAX global vaccine sharing programme”as soon as possible,” a White House statement said.

Sullivan said the donation “underscored the United States support for the people of Indonesia as they fight a surge in COVID-19 cases.”

The two officials also discussed US plans to increase assistance for Indonesia’s broader COVID-19 response efforts, the statement said.

“Sullivan highlighted the importance the Biden-Harris administration places on Indonesia, Southeast Asia and ending the pandemic more broadly and pledged continued support and high-level engagement,” the statement said.

Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country and has been battling one of the Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks.

The nation has recorded record new infections on eight of the past 12 days, including 25 830 cases on Friday, and a record 539 deaths.

Indonesia has relied mainly on the vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech, but has been looking to diversify supply sources.

Penny K. Lukito, the chief of Indonesia’s food and drug agency, said earlier on Friday it authorised the Moderna vaccine for emergency use.

Washington has been competing with Beijing to deepen geopolitical clout through so-called vaccine diplomacy, although it has said it is not sharing vaccines to secure favors or extract concessions, but to save lives and end the pandemic.

The Biden administration pledged last month to share an initial 80 million US-made vaccines globally amid concern about the disparity in vaccination rates between advanced and developing countries.

It has already announced plans to provide vaccines to other  Southeast Asian countries – the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Papua New Guinea, and Cambodia.

It has also said it will purchase 500 million Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines to distribute to the African Union and 92 low and lower middle-income countries.