JAKARTA – Indonesia’s highest Muslim clerical council hopes to issue a ruling on whether a COVID-19 vaccine is halal, or permissible under Islam before the country is due to start a mass inoculation program using a Chinese vaccine next week. The world’s largest Muslim-majority country plans to launch vaccinations on Jan. 13 after obtaining 3 million doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech.
Controversy over whether vaccines adhere to Islamic principles has stymied public health responses before, including in 2018, when the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued a fatwa declaring that a measles vaccine was forbidden under Islam.
“Hopefully the edict can be declared before the government starts its vaccination program,” said Muti Arintawati, an official at MUI in charge of analyzing food and drugs to assess whether they are halal.
She said data was still being gathered before MUI could make a final edict.
Indonesia is struggling with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in Southeast Asia and authorities are relying on