Indonesia’s Muslims worried about halal status of Covid-19 vaccines

Indonesia’s Muslim are partly skeptical of Covid-19 vaccines

Indonesian Muslim clerics have expressed concerns that Covid-19 vaccines could possibly not be religiously permissible because some of them use pork-based gelatin which would defile a Muslim’s body.

The concerns about the halal status of these vaccines have raised fears about the possibility of disrupted immunization campaigns, a development which would be detrimental to the Indonesian government’s aim to immunize its 270-million population.

Pork-derived gelatin has been widely used by pharma companies as a stabilizer to ensure vaccines remain safe and effective during storage and transport.

While some firms have developed pork-free vaccines, demand, existing supply chains, cost and the shorter shelf life of vaccines not containing porcine gelatin means the ingredient is likely to continue to be used in a majority of vaccines for years, Salman Waqar, general secretary of the British Islamic Medical Association, told AP.

Spokespeople for Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca have said that pork products are not part of their Covid-19 vaccines. But limited supply and preexisting deals worth millions of dollars with other companies means that some countries with large Muslim populations, such as Indonesia, will receive vaccines that have not yet been certified to be gelatin-free.

“Impurity” of pork-based gelatin used in vaccines

Meanwhile, discussions are ongoing in the Muslim community whether vaccines with pork-based gelatin were actually impure.

The majority consensus from past debates over pork gelatin use in vaccines is that it is permissible under Islamic law, as “greater harm” would occur if the vaccines were not used, Harunor Rashid, an associate professor at the University of Sydney, told the newswire.

Yet there have been dissenting opinions on the issue which could have serious health consequences for Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population of about 225 million of the world’s nearly two billion Muslims.

Governments react with fines for those who refuse

In 2018, the Indonesian Ulema Council, the Muslim clerical body that issues certifications that a product is halal, or permissible under Islamic law, decreed that certain measles and rubella vaccines were “haram,” or unlawful, because of the gelatin. Religious and community leaders began to urge parents to not allow their children to be vaccinated.

“Measles cases subsequently spiked, giving Indonesia the third-highest rate of measles in the world,” said Rachel Howard, director of the health care market research group Research Partnership.

A decree was later issued by the Muslim clerical body saying it was permissible to receive the vaccine, but cultural taboos still led to continued low vaccination rates, Howard said.

Governments in Asia have taken steps to address the issue. In Malaysia, where the halal status of vaccines has been identified as the biggest issue among Muslim parents, stricter laws have been enacted so that parents must vaccinate their children or face fines and jail time. In Pakistan, where there has been waning vaccine confidence for religious and political reasons, parents have been jailed for refusing to vaccinate their children against polio.



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Indonesia's Muslim are partly skeptical of Covid-19 vaccines Indonesian Muslim clerics have expressed concerns that Covid-19 vaccines could possibly not be religiously permissible because some of them use pork-based gelatin which would defile a Muslim’s body. The concerns about the halal status of these vaccines have raised fears about the possibility of disrupted immunization campaigns, a development which would be detrimental to the Indonesian government’s aim to immunize its 270-million population. Pork-derived gelatin has been widely used by pharma companies as a stabilizer to ensure vaccines remain safe and effective during storage and transport. While some firms have developed pork-free...

Indonesia’s Muslim are partly skeptical of Covid-19 vaccines

Indonesian Muslim clerics have expressed concerns that Covid-19 vaccines could possibly not be religiously permissible because some of them use pork-based gelatin which would defile a Muslim’s body.

The concerns about the halal status of these vaccines have raised fears about the possibility of disrupted immunization campaigns, a development which would be detrimental to the Indonesian government’s aim to immunize its 270-million population.

Pork-derived gelatin has been widely used by pharma companies as a stabilizer to ensure vaccines remain safe and effective during storage and transport.

While some firms have developed pork-free vaccines, demand, existing supply chains, cost and the shorter shelf life of vaccines not containing porcine gelatin means the ingredient is likely to continue to be used in a majority of vaccines for years, Salman Waqar, general secretary of the British Islamic Medical Association, told AP.

Spokespeople for Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca have said that pork products are not part of their Covid-19 vaccines. But limited supply and preexisting deals worth millions of dollars with other companies means that some countries with large Muslim populations, such as Indonesia, will receive vaccines that have not yet been certified to be gelatin-free.

“Impurity” of pork-based gelatin used in vaccines

Meanwhile, discussions are ongoing in the Muslim community whether vaccines with pork-based gelatin were actually impure.

The majority consensus from past debates over pork gelatin use in vaccines is that it is permissible under Islamic law, as “greater harm” would occur if the vaccines were not used, Harunor Rashid, an associate professor at the University of Sydney, told the newswire.

Yet there have been dissenting opinions on the issue which could have serious health consequences for Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population of about 225 million of the world’s nearly two billion Muslims.

Governments react with fines for those who refuse

In 2018, the Indonesian Ulema Council, the Muslim clerical body that issues certifications that a product is halal, or permissible under Islamic law, decreed that certain measles and rubella vaccines were “haram,” or unlawful, because of the gelatin. Religious and community leaders began to urge parents to not allow their children to be vaccinated.

“Measles cases subsequently spiked, giving Indonesia the third-highest rate of measles in the world,” said Rachel Howard, director of the health care market research group Research Partnership.

A decree was later issued by the Muslim clerical body saying it was permissible to receive the vaccine, but cultural taboos still led to continued low vaccination rates, Howard said.

Governments in Asia have taken steps to address the issue. In Malaysia, where the halal status of vaccines has been identified as the biggest issue among Muslim parents, stricter laws have been enacted so that parents must vaccinate their children or face fines and jail time. In Pakistan, where there has been waning vaccine confidence for religious and political reasons, parents have been jailed for refusing to vaccinate their children against polio.



Support ASEAN news

Investvine has been a consistent voice in ASEAN news for more than a decade. From breaking news to exclusive interviews with key ASEAN leaders, we have brought you factual and engaging reports – the stories that matter, free of charge.

Like many news organisations, we are striving to survive in an age of reduced advertising and biased journalism. Our mission is to rise above today’s challenges and chart tomorrow’s world with clear, dependable reporting.

Support us now with a donation of your choosing. Your contribution will help us shine a light on important ASEAN stories, reach more people and lift the manifold voices of this dynamic, influential region.

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $10.00

 

 

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