As the World Health Organization warns over 100 million more people will be infected with COVID-19 by early next year as the Delta variant continues to rapidly spread, we look at Indonesia, which has become the epicenter of the pandemic in Asia. Over the past 28 days, Indonesia has recorded 43,000 deaths, more than anywhere else in the world. More than half of the deaths have occurred in the past two months as the Delta variant overwhelmed hospitals across the country. Sana Jaffrey, director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict in Jakarta, says the public debate is largely focused on whether to protect public health or allow economic activity to continue. “It is unfair that we are still stuck in this discussion when, in Western countries, people are getting vaccinated or choosing not to get vaccinated,” Jaffrey says. “Indonesia is not able to break out of this trap of these two options because there just isn’t enough supply of vaccines in the country.” We also speak with Dr. Dicky Budiman, an Indonesian epidemiologist, who says it’s important to combine vaccination with other measures such as testing, tracing and isolation. “We have to combine the strategies,” he says.
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