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Hundreds of vaccinated doctors, medical workers catch COVID-19 in Indonesia; some have been hospitalized

A health worker administers a dose of Sinovac during mass vaccination event Thursday in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. (Photo by CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite the fact that they've been vaccinated, more than 350 doctors and medical workers in Indonesia have caught COVID-19 and dozens of them have been hospitalized, Reuters reported, which cited officials concerned about the effectiveness of the Sinovac vaccine, which was developed by a Chinese pharmaceutical company.

What are the details?

The outlet said most of the infected health care workers were asymptomatic and self-isolating at home, but those who've been hospitalized had high fevers and declining oxygen-saturation levels.

Indonesian health care workers were designated a priority group for vaccinations and were among the first to receive them in January, Reuters noted. Almost all of them received the vaccine from Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac, the outlet added, citing the Indonesian Medical Association.

Reuters reported that the number of Indonesian health care workers dying from COVID-19 has dropped from 158 in January to 13 in May, but public health experts said hospitalizations are concerning them.

The district of Kudus in central Java has about 5,000 health care workers and is in the middle of a COVID-19 outbreak apparently driven by the more transmissible Delta variant, the outlet reported, adding that hospital bed occupancy rates have risen above 90%.

"The data shows they have the Delta variant [in Kudus], so it is no surprise that the breakthrough infection is higher than before, because, as we know, the majority of health care workers in Indonesia got Sinovac, and we still don't know yet how effective it is in the real world against the Delta variant," Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist at Australia's Griffith University, told Reuters.

The outlet said spokespersons from Sinovac and Indonesia's ministry of health were not immediately available for comment.

What's the background?

Reuters said the World Health Organization approved emergency use of Sinovac's vaccine this month, noting results that showed it prevented symptomatic disease in 51% of recipients and prevented severe COVID-19 and hospital stays in all of those studied.

But experts also told the outlet that after being vaccinated, many people — even doctors and health care workers — are being less vigilant about COVID-19 protocols because they believe they won't get infected.

More from Reuters:

Across Indonesia, at least five doctors and one nurse have died from COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, according to the data initiative group, although one had only received a first shot.

In Kudus, one senior doctor has died, said IDI, although it is understood he had a co-morbidity.

In Jakarta, the capital, radiologist Dr Prijo Sidipratomo told Reuters he knew of at least half a dozen doctors who had been hospitalized with COVID-19 in the past month, despite being vaccinated, with one now being treated in an ICU.
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