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Highlights in the media today: 1,620 people register as volunteers for candidate vaccine, Indonesia celebrates Independence Day amid pandemic, President reveals 2021 draft state budget.

As the country pinned its hopes on producing its own vaccine, public participation appeared to be playing a vital role. At least 1,620 Indonesians are scheduled to take part in the final stage of clinical testing, phase III trials, of a COVID-19 candidate vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech.

To participate in the trials, volunteers must make a commitment to, among other things, not move out of Bandung or get pregnant. Over the course of a seven-month trial, they will be required to attend five checkups.

Bio Farma R&D Project Integration Manager Neni Nurainy said the company would provide all volunteers with health insurance, meaning it would bear the costs of any health problems throughout the process and reimburse them for the cost of travel.

As of August 18 16.00 (GMT+7), Indonesia had confirmed 143,043 COVID-19 cases, with 96,306 recoveries and 6,277 deaths.

Indonesia celebrated 75 years of Independence amid the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday (August 17). The Merdeka Palace imposed health protocols to prevent COVID-19 transmission, resulting in only a handful of officials and dignitaries being able to attend a flag-hoisting ceremony.

Social distancing measures also prompted a reduction in the number of members of the flag bearer team, which was cut to only eight from the usual 68. The Presidential Palace said the number of attendees at the ceremony had been reduced to only 34, including 14 dignitaries invited to join the occasion.

Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) Senior Historian Asvi Warman Adam said the current pandemic could rank as one of the worst crises the country had faced since the country declared independence 75 years ago.

President Joko Widodo has revealed Indonesia’s 2021 draft state budget on Friday (August 14). The government is aiming to use the state budget to accelerate post-pandemic economic recovery and push for structural reform to boost productivity, innovation and economic competitiveness.

Next year, Indonesia is seeking to raise Rp1.78 quadrillion in state income to fund bigger spending on infrastructure and health care, among other things, as the government proposes Rp2.74 quadrillion in expenditure to fuel the economy amid the pandemic.

Next year’s budget deficit will reach Rp971.2 trillion, or 5.5% of gross domestic product (GDP). The government also projected a GDP growth of 4.5%-5.5% for next year.

Source:

  • Republika.co.id, August 18, 2020, Indonesia confirms 1,673 new COVID-19 cases

  • The Jakarta Post, August 18, 2020, p.2, Indonesians volunteer for COVID-19 vaccine trials

  • The Jakarta Post, August 18, 2020, p.1, Muted celebrations mark Indonesia’s Independence Day

  • The Jakarta Post, August 18, 2020, p.1, Details of 2021 draft state budget: What we know so far

  • Kompas, August 15, 2020, p.1,15, Focusing on fiscals to accelerate recovery

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