COVID-19 Briefing – July 20, 2020

Highlights in the media today: Indonesia records more cases than China, Bio Farma announces third phase of clinical trial for COVID-19 vaccine, Violations rampant during transitional large-scale social restrictions (PSBB). 

After the central government and local administrations gradually relaxed the large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in the first weeks of June, the number of COVID-19 cases has soared. Indonesia’s total cumulative reported cases has even exceeded those officially reported in China on Saturday (July 18).

Gadjah Mada University (UGM) epidemiologist Riris Andono Ahmad said that the government should focus on suppressing transmission as early as possible. He said that the exponential growth and shortened doubling period showed that community transmission had reached a level necessitating further intervention to enforce social distancing.

As of June 20 16:04 (GMT+7), Indonesia had recorded 88,214 COVID-19 cases with 46,977 recoveries and 4,239 deaths.

Bio Farma claimed that it was ready to launch a Phase III clinical trial for the COVID-19 vaccine in Indonesia. The vaccine is  being developed in cooperation with China-based biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech.

Bio Farma President Director Honesti Basyir said that the preliminary result of the Phase III clinical trial was expected to be submitted for emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) by the first quarter of 2021.

Honesti claimed that Bio Farma’s existing facility had the capacity to produce 100 million doses, but it was building a new facility to increase the capacity further to 250 million.

Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) Head Arifin acknowledged that more people had been violating the rules during the transitional large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) phase, such as by not wearing masks, especially in wet markets and residential areas.

The total number of new cases reported during July’s two-week extension was 3,846, more than 90% of the confirmed cases during the month-long transitional phase in June (4,181 cases).

Universitas Indonesia (UI) School of Public Health biostatistician Iwan Ariawan said that the faculty’s team had recommended the Jakarta administration to either restore the stricter PSBB regime or continue with the transitional phase, while also placing an emphasis on stronger efforts to improve the implementation of health protocols.

Jakarta Deputy Governor Ahmad Riza Patria said on Thursday (July 16) that there would be no change to existing regulations. The administration’s strategy is to postpone plans to reopen certain businesses, such as movie theaters and indoor entertainment venues, as well as to deploy more security personnel and to keep improving testing, he said.