JAKARTA - Indonesia’s national agency BPJPH will halal-certify China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday (January 13), its chairperson Prof. Sukoso told Salaam Gateway.
BPJPH’s decision follows the halal fatwa document it received on Tuesday from the Indonesian Ulema Council’s Assessment Institute for Foods, Drugs and Cosmetics (LPPOM-MUI) and the Emergency Use Authorization from the National Drug and Food Agency (BPOM) on Monday. BPOM said the Sinovac vaccine has an efficacy rate of 65.3%, based on clinical trials in the Indonesian city of Bandung. This is higher than the World Health Organization’s recommended 50% efficacy rate.
“This afternoon we received the document (halal fatwa) from MUI and we are currently rechecking all the documents to prepare for the halal certificate issuance,” Prof. Sukoso told Salaam Gateway on Tuesday (Jan 12).
“We are prioritizing it since it is an urgent need and we are speeding up the process in order to be able to issue the certificate tomorrow.”
BPJPH is accelerating the halal certification process for the Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the scheduled start of mass vaccination on Wednesday. President Joko Widodo is due the first shot.
Sinovac submitted its halal certification application to BPJPH in October 2020, said Prof. Sukoso. It then appointed LPPOM-MUI as the Halal Inspection Agency (LPH) based on the applicant's choice. The BPJPH head confirmed that LPPOM conducted inspection, product testing and an audit in China.
“[Halal certification] usually takes 40 to 60 working days. We received and verified documents on the results of inspection or product testing from the LPPOM. Furthermore, a halal fatwa trial (meeting) was held on Friday and yesterday to decide or determine the halal aspect of the vaccine. Today, we received the official halal stipulation document signed by MUI and that’s why we are able to process the halal certificate issuance,” Prof. Sukoso said.
There are several processes that must be passed for BPJPH to issue a halal certificate: application, examination, determination, testing, checking, fatwa, and finally the issuance of the certificate.
The head of MUI’s Halal and Fatwa Task Force, Asrorun Niam Sholeh, said during a virtual press conference on Monday that the Islamic clerical body was finally able to issue the full halal fatwa after ensuring the vaccine’s tayyib aspects (safety, quality and benefit) that were passed by BPOM with the issuance of the Emergency Use Authorization.
“Last Friday, we conducted a trial (meeting) and decided partially (muallaq) that the vaccine is halal. But we still needed other aspects, the tayyib aspects, that have now been confirmed by BPOM today,” Asrorun said on Monday.
Indonesia received on December 6, 1.2 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac. The doses are stored by Indonesian state-owned company Bio Farma, that will also locally process the raw materials shipped by Sinovac for 45 million doses of the vaccine.
VACCINE HALAL CONTENTION
Indonesia is the first country to halal-certify a COVID-19 vaccine.
There is contention among Muslims and the halal industry about COVID-19 vaccines being halal or certified halal.
In the UK, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is being given to the public, was approved by the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) and other Islamic scholars, stating the vaccine was halal “based on the information available" but it has not officially been put through tests and audits for halal certification.
In Singapore, where the vaccines it has received have not been halal-certified, the Office of the Mufti of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS), states on its website that the COVID-19 vaccine is “a basic necessity (daruriyyat)” as it is a life-saving inoculation and hence “The religious view of the COVID-19 vaccine must therefore take a more holistic stance that transcends the issue of halal-ness or permissibility of its ingredients."
The UAE Fatwa Council has taken a similar position to Singapore's MUIS.
Malaysia, however, is seeking JAKIM halal certification for a vaccine.
(Reporting by Yosi Winosa; Editing by Emmy Abdul Alim firstname.lastname@example.org)
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