Indonesia to begin work on producing Covid-19 vaccine

INDONESIA will start work to produce its own Covid-19 vaccine next year, its national Covid-19 research team head said recently.

This follows growing anxiety that developing nations could face difficulty getting access to a future vaccine.

According to reports in Jakarta Post, the production capability of biotech companies in the world is limited, while global supply chains also have challenges.

Ali Ghufron, who heads the innovation team at Indonesia’s research and technology ministry, said the vaccine will be developed by Indonesia for Indonesia.

“We are using our theory and we are optimistic that in the year 2021 and early 2022, this will be finished in the laboratory,” he said, adding that state-owned firm Bio Farma could conduct trials in the second half of next year.

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has in recent months spoken about the need for developing countries to have access to any future vaccine, amid concern that rich countries would try to corner a limited supply.

Such concerns increased this week, when the United States announced it had bought up most of the global supply of the Gilead Sciences drug remdesivir, shown to speed up recovery times from Covid-19.

The pandemic has sparked a race to find a vaccine, with more than 100 in development and around a dozen already being tested in humans.

On Thursday, Mukti also outlined efforts underway between local and foreign pharmaceutical companies to mass produce a vaccine in Indonesia.

A Covid-19 Vaccine Development Team has been tasked with guaranteeing the availability of a vaccine nationally within the next 12 months.

With a population of more than 265 million, Indonesia estimates it would need more than 352 million shots of a two-dose vaccine.

On Thursday, Indonesia recorded 1,624 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily rise so far.

In addition to Bio Farma and Sinovac, Mukti said private Indonesian pharmaceutical firm Kalbe Farma and the South Korean biotech company Genexine are cooperating to produce a vaccine.

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