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Indonesia reels in its unicorns to accelerate vaccination program

Written by Ursula Florene Published on     3 mins read

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The country aims to inoculate 181.5 million citizens by March 2022.

The drive-through vaccination center at the Jakarta International Expo in Kemayoran, North Jakarta, comprises of four posts. Assistants are verifying IDs and registration status at the entry, and once cleared, visitors will move to the second post to undergo a health check, including blood pressure, oxygen saturation level, and history of comorbidity. Patients without problems are being ushered to the third stop where they finally will be injected with the Sinovac vaccine.

Recipients get the shots in their vehicles. The center has six lanes for motorcycles and two for cars. Afterwards, everyone must wait at the last post for a 30-minute observation of possible side effects. If there’s no problem, they are allowed to leave.

Countries around the world have been rolling out their COVID-19 vaccination programs, including Indonesia. In its second phase, which started at the beginning of March, the government is collaborating with local tech companies to accelerate the process.

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On Wednesday, the Indonesian health ministry informed about a new partnership with the online healthtech platform Halodoc and ride-hailing unicorn Gojek. Halodoc assists with the registration, scheduling of appointments, and setup of the drive-through centers. Gojek supports the transport of those unable or unwilling to use their own vehicles. Users can also register on GoMed, which allows access to Halodoc via the Gojek app.

Halodoc was previously running the same facility providing swab tests. “We were able to finish the preparation in three days, because we already have the infrastructure since last year,” CEO and co-founder Jonathan Sudharta told the media.

Right now the center can administer around 600 jabs per day, but Sudharta said they will gradually increase the capacity to several thousands in the coming weeks. In 30 minutes, today’s slot was fully booked, he added. Halodoc is assisted by the Hermina Hospital, which provides the medical staff.

Inauguration ceremony of the partnership between the health ministry, Gojek and Halodoc. Photo courtesy of Halodoc.

In a similar cooperation, the ministry teamed up with Grab and Good Doctor to run a vaccination center in Bali. “I want Gojek and Grab to work together and create 100 more lanes for drive-through vaccination,” said health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin, “We still need to run the program until December 31. I hope our collaboration will not stop now and continue until then.”

Health ministry spokesperson Siti Nadia Tarmizi told KrASIA that the cooperation with tech companies is based on necessity. “One of the groups that will be vaccinated in the second phase are public transportation workers, that’s why we partner with Halodoc and Gojek,” she said. Tarmizi didn’t say whether there will be other tech companies involved in the future.

Daeng M. Faqih of the Indonesian Doctors Association (PB IDI) stated that the collaboration will ease up the vaccination process. He wished the ministry would pass regulations so that similar centers can be set up in other areas, especially smaller cities. “Our startup friends are able to act swiftly across the nation,” he said. Indonesia is the first Southeast Asian country to launch drive-through vaccination centers and also the first to include tech firms.

Second phase of the program

The country aims to inoculate 181.5 million citizens by March 2022. In the second phase it targets 17.4 million public-facing workers, including ride-hailing drivers, and 21.5 million elderly. However, Gojek’s co-CEO and co-founder Kevin Aluwi said that the company is still waiting for the health ministry’s approval to start vaccinating its drivers.

Tech companies have been actively participating in the country’s battle against the pandemic since last year. Healthtech apps such as SehatQ, Alodokter, and Good Doctor have been supporting Indonesia’s COVID-19 task force distributing information and providing consultation in less severe cases, along with Gojek and Grab for the logistics.

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