More than 350 Indonesian healthcare workers who were vaccinated with China’s Sinovac vaccine caught COVID-19, , Reuters reported.
While the majority of those who tested positive for the coronavirus were asymptomatic, dozens needed hospital care.
Badai Ismoyo, head of the health office in the district of Kudus in Central Java, told the outlet that more than 90% of the facility’s beds are occupied. 5,000 healthcare workers are currently dealing with the outbreak, about 7% of whom have become infected.
It’s likely that the outbreak is fueled by the more transmissible Delta variant, which originated in India. The number of workers testing positive has prompted officials to question how effective the Sinovac vaccine is against variants.
The Delta variant can also result in more serious illness. It may also be able to evade protection from existing vaccines, as Insider’s Aria Bendix reported.
“The data shows they have the Delta variant (in Kudus) so it is no surprise that the breakthrough infection is higher than before, because, as we know, the majority of healthcare workers in Indonesia got Sinovac, and we still don’t know yet how effective it is in the real world against the Delta variant,” Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist at Australia’s Griffith University told Reuters.
The statistic came after 128,000 healthcare workers who were vaccinated were monitored between January and March and it was found that 94% of them hadn’t caught symptomatic COVID-19.
The efficacy rate from trials in Brazil was lower than that found by Indonesian officials, at 50.7% effective against symptomatic COVID-19.
The study and trial did not look at the Delta variant.
Indonesia recorded over 1.9 million infections with 53,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Doctors and nurses accounted for close to 950 deaths. They were the first to receive the Sinovac vaccine in January.
The two-dose COVID-19 vaccine developed by Chinese biotech Sinovac is highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death, Indonesian health officials said Wednesday.
The vaccine, called Coronavac, was an estimated 98% effective at preventing death and 96% effective at preventing hospitalization, Pandji Dhewantara, an Indonesian health ministry official, said in a press briefing.
The stats were based on 128,000 health workers who received the shot in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, and were monitored between January and March.
Dhewantara said that 94% of workers hadn’t caught symptomatic COVID-19, and protection kicked in 7 days after the second dose.
The study compared vaccinated people with non-vaccinated people to estimate the effectiveness of the shot.
The results haven’t been published in a medical journal or scrutinized by experts.
The vaccine costs about $30 per dose, according to Chinese state media, and can be stored at normal fridge temperatures, which could make it a useful option for low- and middle-income countries struggling to secure vaccines. As of April 12, more than 180 million CoronaVac doses have been sent to 30 low-and-middle income countries, including Brazil, Chile, and the Philippines.
Indonesia’s results could mean that Coronavac works better in real-life than expected.
Late-stage trial results from Brazil released April 12 of more than 12,000 health workers showed that the shot was 50.7% effective against symptomatic COVID-19. The numbers in the Brazil trial weren’t large enough to draw conclusions about its effectiveness against severe COVID-19.
Sinovac said that it required more information about Indonesia’s study to be able to comment on the results, per Bloomberg.
Helen Petousis-Harris, a vaccinologist at the University of Auckland, told Bloomberg that trials can fail to predict the overall impact of vaccines, something that can only be seen in the real world after widespread use.
“Reducing the bulk of disease is not only essential to save lives but also to reduce the chances of problematic variants appearing,” she said.
Other possible reasons for the disparity between results include that the median age of the Indonesian study was 31, whereas the Brazilian trial included people over 60 – about 5% of participants.
In Turkey, CoronaVac was 83.5% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in a study of more than 10,000 participants aged between 19 and 59.
There were also a relatively low number of new cases in Indonesia during the study period. Between January and March, there were between 18 to 47 daily new coronavirus cases per million people in Indonesia, according to Our World in Data. For comparison, the number of daily new infections in the US during the same period was between 193 and 758 cases per million.
The Brazilian trial was conducted when cases were surging.
Yin Weidong, Sinovac CEO, told Bloomberg in a previous interview that real world results and scientific data from clinical trials would allow the world to judge the vaccine.
“We encourage our partners and governments in countries where our vaccine is being used to release such data as soon as possible,” he said.
China is sending rescue vessels to help retrieve the Indonesian submarine that sunk with the loss of all 53 crew members.
Ren Guoqiang, a spokesman for the defence ministry, said late on Friday that the ships had been sent upon the invitation of Indonesian government and they were heading for the Lombok Strait to help recover the KRI Nanggala 402, which went missing last Wednesday when taking part in a torpedo drill.
Citing an unnamed Chinese submarine expert, the state-owned tabloid Global Times said the rescue mission could also help China “study the maritime military geography of the area where the submarine was wrecked, as well as expanding the international cooperation and influence of our navy in submarine rescue and salvage.”
While the statement did not give further details of the ships the Chinese military has sent, the Indonesian Navy Information Service said in a statement on Saturday that three Chinese salvage ships, including a Type 925 rescue ship Yongxingdao, were expected to reach the waters off Bali where the sub was lost within days and would join its counterparts from Indonesia, the US, Australia Malaysia, Singapore and India in the recovery efforts.
On Friday, Indonesian navy chief Yudo Margono said the local authorities were waiting for the arrival of two ships, including one from China, that are equipped to handle deep-sea salvage operations.
China has been building up its own submarine rescue fleet after one of its vessels sank during an exercise in the Yellow Sea in April 2003 with the loss of all 70 crew members – one of the Chinese military’s worst peacetime disasters.
There has been speculation that China may also send one of its most advanced Type 926 supply and rescue ships, the Liugongdao, which is currently with the South Sea Fleet, to Indonesia to help with the salvage operations.
The vessel is equipped with a British-made deep-submergence rescue vehicle and a remotely operated underwater vehicle that can operate at a depth of 1,000 metres, Global Times reported.
While China’s submarine rescue ships have taken part in international exercises in the past, it will be the first time it has taken place in an international recovery mission of this sort.
Song Zhongping, a former PLA instructor and military analyst, said the “highly challenging operation” could provide valuable experience for the future and would offer the opportunity to study the topography of the seabed that “would be beneficial to the navy.”
Indonesia’s navy said on Friday that it had found an object emitting a “strong magnetic resonance” during the search for its missing submarine.
The navy dispatched search crews to find the KRI Nanggala 402 Wednesday morning after it missed a routine check-in following a torpedo drill that was being conducted near the island of Bali. Fifty-three people, more than the roughly three dozen people the sub was built to carry, were aboard.
On Friday, Indonesian navy chief of staff Adm. Yudo Margono said an object with “strong magnetic resonance” had been found at a depth of between 50 and 100 meters (164 to 328 feet,) the Associated Press reported.
The navy said that its Riguel warship, which is equipped with the high-tech sonar needed to identify the object, had been dispatched to the location, CNN reported.
Rescue crews previously found an oil slick on the surface of the ocean that the navy said could mean the submarine’s fuel tank had been breached.
Time is of the essence as the submarine only has enough oxygen to keep the crew alive until around 3 a.m. local time on Saturday, according to the navy. Jakarta time is 11 hours ahead of Eastern Time.
The submarine is believed to have sunk to a depth of between 600 and 700 meters (2,000 to 2,300 feet), the navy said, adding that it could be too deep to rescue.
Experts have warned that the submarine’s hull is at risk of collapse at that depth, and that the vessel is unlikely to survive.
Navy spokesman Julius Widjojono told a local TV network Thursday that the submarine could survive up to a maximum depth of 500 meters.
The cause of the disappearance is still unclear. The navy previously that a power outage may be to blame.
“It is possible that during static diving, a blackout occurred so control was lost and emergency procedures cannot be carried out and the ship fell to a depth of 600 to 700 meters,” the navy said in a statement published by Reuters.
“At the invitation of the Indonesian government, we are sending airborne assets to assist in the search for the missing submarine,” he said.
He added that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has plans to speak with his Indonesian counterpart Friday “to discuss how else the United States can be of assistance.”
Indonesia’s diesel-powered submarine KRI Nanggala-402 disappeared during a training exercise Wednesday with 53 people, more than the boat is built to carry, on board. It is unclear at this time what the exact status of the missing submarine is.
The Indonesian navy has said it believes that the submarine, a 1,400-ton vessel made by Germany in the late 1970s and refitted in 2012, may have sunk to a depth of roughly 2,000 feet, putting the vessel beyond the reach and possibly past the point where the hull can withstand the crushing pressure of the water around it.
But, on the chance that this is not the case and it has survived, the search is a race against time given that the vessel will run out of oxygen by early Saturday morning. The boat only had 72 hours of breathable air available.
Facebook allowed authoritarian governments to use its platform to generate fake support for their regimes for months despite warnings from employees about the disinformation campaigns, an investigation from the Guardian revealed this week.
A loophole in Facebook’s policies allowed government officials around the world to create unlimited amounts of fake “pages” which, unlike user profiles, don’t have to correspond to an actual person – but could still like, comment on, react to, and share content, the Guardian reported.
That loophole let governments spin up armies of what looked like real users who could then artificially generate support for and amplify pro-government content, what the Guardian called “the digital equivalent of bussing in a fake crowd for a speech.”
Sophie Zhang, a former Facebook data scientist on the company’s integrity team, blew the whistle dozens of times about the loophole, warning Facebook executives including vice president of integrity Guy Rosen, airing many of her concerns, according to the Guardian.
BuzzFeed News previously reported on Zhang’s “badge post” – a tradition where departing employees post an internal farewell message to coworkers.
But one of Zhang’s biggest concerns was that Facebook wasn’t paying enough attention to coordinated disinformation networks in authoritarian countries, such as Honduras and Azerbaijan, where elections are less free and more susceptible to state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, the Guardian’s investigation revealed.
Facebook waited 344 days after employees sounded the alarm to take action in the Honduras case, and 426 days in Azerbaijan, and in some cases took no action, the investigation found.
But when she raised her concerns about Facebook’s inaction in Honduras to Rosen, he dismissed her concerns.
“We have literally hundreds or thousands of types of abuse (job security on integrity eh!),” Rosen told Zhang in April 2019, according the Guardian, adding: “That’s why we should start from the end (top countries, top priority areas, things driving prevalence, etc) and try to somewhat work our way down.”
Rosen told Zhang he agreed with Facebook’s priority areas, which included the US, Western Europe, and “foreign adversaries such as Russia/Iran/etc,” according to the Guardian.
“We fundamentally disagree with Ms. Zhang’s characterization of our priorities and efforts to root out abuse on our platform. We aggressively go after abuse around the world and have specialized teams focused on this work,” Facebook spokesperson Liz Bourgeois told Insider in a statement.
“As a result, we’ve already taken down more than 100 networks of coordinated inauthentic behavior. Around half of them were domestic networks that operated in countries around the world, including those in Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, and in the Asia Pacific region. Combatting coordinated inauthentic behavior is our priority. We’re also addressing the problems of spam and fake engagement. We investigate each issue before taking action or making public claims about them,” she said.
However, Facebook didn’t dispute any of Zhang’s factual claims in the Guardian investigation.
Facebook pledged to tackle election-related misinformation and disinformation after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Russia’s use of its platform to sow division among American voters ahead of the 2016 US presidential elections.
“Since then, we’ve focused on improving our defenses and making it much harder for anyone to interfere in elections,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a 2018 op-ed for The Washington Post.
“Key to our efforts has been finding and removing fake accounts – the source of much of the abuse, including misinformation. Bad actors can use computers to generate these in bulk. But with advances in artificial intelligence, we now block millions of fake accounts every day as they are being created so they can’t be used to spread spam, false news or inauthentic ads,” Zuckerberg added.
But the Guardian’s investigation showed Facebook is still delaying or refusing to take action against state-sponsored disinformation campaigns in dozens of countries, with thousands of fake accounts, creating hundreds of thousands of fake likes.
And even in supposedly high-priority areas, like the US, researchers have found Facebook has allowed key disinformation sources to expand their reach over the years.
A March report from Avaaz found “Facebook could have prevented 10.1 billion estimated views for top-performing pages that repeatedly shared misinformation” ahead of the 2020 US elections had it acted earlier to limit their reach.
“Failure to downgrade the reach of these pages and to limit their ability to advertise in the year before the election meant Facebook allowed them to almost triple their monthly interactions, from 97 million interactions in October 2019 to 277.9 million interactions in October 2020,” Avaaz found.
Facebook admits that around 5% of its accounts are fake, a number that hasn’t gone down since 2019, according to The New York Times. And MIT Technology Review’s Karen Hao reported in March that Facebook still doesn’t have a centralized team dedicated to ensuring its AI systems and algorithms reduce the spread of misinformation.
Facebook and Google are pouring more money into internet cables that could span the Pacific Ocean.
The tech giants announced Monday they’re funding two new cables called Bifrost and Echo. The cables will link America’s west coast with Indonesia and Singapore, with a stop-over in Guam, the US island territory in the western Pacific.
Facebook is investing in both cables, while Google is only funding Echo.
In a press release on Monday, Facebook said the cables would increase transpacific internet capacity by 70%. CNBC reported Echo was slated to be completed by late 2023, and Bifrost by late 2024.
Facebook and Google are partnering with Indonesian companies Telin and XL Axiata, as well as Singaporean company Keppel.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – Indonesian rescuers pulled out body parts, pieces of clothing and scraps of metal from the Java Sea early Sunday morning, a day after a Boeing 737-500 with 62 people onboard crashed shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, officials said.
Officials were hopeful they were honing in on the wreckage of Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 after sonar equipment detected a signal from the aircraft.
Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi told reporters that authorities have launched massive search efforts after identifying “the possible location of the crash site.”
“These pieces were found by the SAR team between Lancang Island and Laki Island,” National Search and Rescue Agency Bagus Puruhito in a statement.
Indonesian military chief Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said teams on the Rigel navy ship equipped with a remote-operated vehicle had detected a signal from the aircraft, which fit the coordinates from the last contact made by the pilots before the plane went missing.
“We have immediately deployed our divers from navy’s elite unit to determine the finding to evacuate the victims,” Tjahjanto said.
More than 12 hours since the Boeing plane operated by the Indonesian airline lost contact, little is known about what caused the crash.
Fishermen in the area around Thousand Islands, a chain of islands north of Jakarta’s coast, reported hearing an explosion around 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We heard something explode, we thought it was a bomb or a tsunami since after that we saw the big splash from the water,” fisherman Solihin, who goes by one name, told The Associated Press by phone.
“It was raining heavily and the weather was so bad. So it is difficult to see around clearly. But we can see the splash and a big wave after the sounds. We were very shocked and directly saw the plane debris and the fuel around our boat.”
Sumadi said Flight SJ182 was delayed for an hour before it took off at 2:36 p.m. It disappeared from radar four minutes later, after the pilot contacted air traffic control to ascend to an altitude of 29,000 feet (8,839 meters), he said.
There were 62 people on board, including seven children and three babies.
“We are aware of media reports from Jakarta regarding Sriwijaya Air flight SJ-182,” Boeing said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families. We are in contact with our airline customer and stand ready to support them during this difficult time.”
Authorities established two crisis centers, one at airport and one at port. Families gathered to wait for news of loved ones.
On social media, people began circulating the flight manifesto with photos and videos of those who were listed as passengers. One video shows a woman with her children waving goodbye while walking through the airport.
Sriwijaya Air President Director Jefferson Irwin Jauwena said the plane, which is 26 years old and previously used by airlines in the United States, was airworthy. He told reporters Saturday that the plane had previously flown to Pontianak and Pangkal Pinang city on the same day.
“Maintenance report said everything went well and airworthy,” Jauwena told a news conference. He said the plane was delayed due to bad weather, not because of any damage.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation, with more than 260 million people, has been plagued by transportation accidents on land, sea and air because of overcrowding on ferries, aging infrastructure and poorly enforced safety standards.
In October 2018, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet operated by Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea just minutes after taking off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board. The plane involved in Saturday’s incident did not have the automated flight-control system that played a role in the Lion Air crash and another crash of a 737 MAX 8 jet in Ethiopia five months later, leading to the grounding of the MAX 8 for 20 months.
The Lion Air crash was Indonesia’s worst airline disaster since 1997, when 234 people were killed on a Garuda airlines flight near Medan on Sumatra island. In December 2014, an AirAsia flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore plunged into the sea, killing 162 people.
Sriwijaya Air has only has several minor incidents in the past, though a farmer was killed in 2008 when landing plane went off runway due to a hydraulic issue.
The United States banned Indonesian carriers from operating in the country in 2007, but reversed the decision in 2016, citing improvements in compliance with international aviation standards. The European Union has previously had similar bans, lifting them in June 2018.