AstraZeneca counters Indonesian Muslim concerns over COVID-19 vaccine

March 21, 2021 12:49 AM EDT

FILE PHOTO: Indonesian soldiers sit as one of them receives a dose of China's Sinovac Biotech vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during a mass vaccination program at a sport hall in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 10, 2021. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfi


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(Changes AstraZeneca Indonesia official's title to director from spokesman)

JAKARTA (Reuters) - AstraZeneca said on Sunday its COVID-19 vaccine contains no pork-derived ingredients, countering an assertion in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, that the drug violates Islamic law.

Indonesia’s highest Muslim clerical council, the Indonesia Ulema Council, said on its website Friday that the vaccine is "haram" because the manufacturing process uses "trypsin from the pork pancreas."

Still, the council approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for use given the pandemic emergency.

But AstraZeneca Indonesia director Rizman Abudaeri said in a statement: "At all stages of the production process, this virus vector vaccine does not use nor come in contact with pork-derived products or other animal products."

The council and the country's food and drug agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Indonesian authorities on Friday approved the use of AstraZeneca's vaccine after reviewing reports that it had caused blood clots among some recipients in Europe.

Indonesia is grappling with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Asia – with 1,455,788 cases and 39,447 deaths as of Saturday.

(Story refiles to change AstraZeneca Indonesia official's title to director from spokesman)

(Reporting by Nilufar Rizki; Writing by Fathin Ungku; Editing by William Mallard)



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