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Indonesia Steps Up COVID-19 Vaccine Development

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Almost every country in the world, including Indonesia, is racing against time to develop their own vaccine or obtain imported vaccines to defeat COVID-19, which has sparked a global economic and health crisis.

Indonesia is keen to get a vaccine as soon as possible, therefore President Joko Widodo has reportedly led the research team at the University of Padjadjaran University of Medicine to speed up clinical trials of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine, based in China.

Researchers were asked to make the vaccine available in three months, instead of six months, according to standard procedures.

“Mr. President’s directive is to make efforts to speed up the availability of this corona vaccine, if possible, within three months,” said Kusnandi Rusmil, head of the research team and concurrently coordinator of the trial. COVID-19 vaccine clinic. the press following a meeting with President Jokowi at the presidential palace on July 21, 2020.

However, Kusnandi said, it would be impossible to speed up the clinical trial and finish it in three months because the research team has to work very carefully and correctly while performing the tests, which are expected to be completed in January 2021.

President Jokowi is known for his quick work and he often asked his subordinates to speed up the work. He has repeatedly said that global competition is no longer between big and small countries, or between rich and poor countries, arguing that countries that work fast will beat slow countries.

Perhaps for this reason, it has established several teams to accelerate its programs, such as the implementation team of the Committee for the Acceleration of the Delivery of Priority Infrastructure (KPPIP) in 2016.

After the announcement of the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country on March 2, 2020, the President set up a working group to accelerate the management of COVID-19 on March 14, 2020.

On September 8, 2020, the government set up a national team to accelerate the development of the COVID-19 vaccine and installed the Minister for the Coordination of Economic Affairs, Airlangga Hartarto, as the head of its pilot team.

The structure of the national team for accelerating the development of the COVID-19 vaccine was stipulated in Presidential Decree number 18 of 2020, dated September 3, 2020. The team will operate until December 31, 2021, according to Wiku Adisasmito, spokesperson for the COVID-19 Working Group.

“All the components (of the team) must be able to work and synergize the time, it is not long, and they must really complete the task by the end of 2021,” he added.

Members of the steering team include the Minister for the Coordination of Human Development and Culture, Muhadjir Effendy, and the Minister for the Coordination of Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Mahfud MD.

At the same time, the Minister of Research and Technology and head of the National Research and Innovation Agency, Bambang Brodjonegoro, was responsible for leading the team leaders, with the Minister of Health Terawan Agus Putranto occupying the posts of Vice President I and Minister of State Enterprises Erick Thohir as Vice President II.

Team members include Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi, Minister of Industry Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, Minister of Commerce Agus Suparmanto, Minister of Education and Culture Nadiem Makarim, and the chief of the Food and Drug Administration, Penny Kusumastuti Lukito.

The team has four goals, namely, to accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccines in Indonesia; bring national resilience and self-sufficiency in the development of COVID-19 vaccines; to intensify synergy in terms of research, development, evaluation and application of scientific knowledge and technology, as well as invention and innovation, production, distribution and use or use of COVID- vaccines 19 between government and scientific and technological institutions, as well as scientific and technological resources for the development of COVID-19 vaccines; and, to carry out the preparations, work on use and capacity building, as well as strengthen national capacities for the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

Currently, Indonesia is seeking to obtain the vaccine in two ways: by developing an indigenous vaccine named after the national flag, red and white, and by importing vaccines in cooperation with foreign countries or institutions.

Jokowi urged the red and white vaccine team to work at a rapid pace to develop the COVID-19 vaccine, which is currently being researched.

The Eijkman Institute is developing the red and white vaccine using a recombinant protein platform. The laboratory vaccine seed development process is 50% complete.

The goal is to complete animal testing of the vaccine by the end of this year, according to Bambang Brodjonegoro, who chairs a team tasked with developing the red and white vaccine.

“So early next year, around January, the Eijkman Institute will be able to hand over the vaccine seeds to PT Bio Farma for production formulation in clinical trials, including phase 1, 2 clinical trials. and 3 “, he noted.

Once clinical trials are completed and the Food and Drug Administration declares the vaccine safe and suitable for building the body’s resistance to COVID-19, Bio Farma will begin mass production of the vaccines.

“It is estimated that in the fourth quarter of 2021, the vaccine would be produced in large quantities and complement the COVID-19 vaccine which will initially be imported with the cooperation of foreign parties, notably with Sinovac China and G42 United Arab Emirates. The vaccination process should be carried out immediately, ”noted the Minister.

According to Airlangga Hartarto, Indonesia will receive 30 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2020, so that vaccination can start in the first quarter of 2021.

Hartarto, concurrently chairman of the Committee for COVID-19 Management and National Economic Recovery (PEN), said the government has set a target for Indonesia to have access to between 250 and 300 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. by next year.

The minister explained that the goal will be achieved by obtaining the vaccine from 10 sources, including Sinovac, G-42 / Wuhan Institute Biological Products / Sinopharm, AstraZeneca, GAVI / CEPI and CanSino Biological Inc./Beijing Institute Technology.

“The price of the GAVI / CEPI vaccine is estimated to be around $ 3-5 lower than the Sinovac vaccine, while the Sinovac vaccine is expected to cost between $ 10 and $ 20,” he revealed.

Vaccines will also be provided by BioNTech / Fosun Pharma / Pfizer, Modena / NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases), Acturus Therapeutics / Duke-NUS and Genexine Korea.

Previously, Erick Thohir, Minister of State Enterprises and head of the COVID-19 Management Committee and the National Economic Recovery Committee, had placed his hopes in the production of the red and white vaccine from 2022.

The minister expressed the belief that with the production of the red and white vaccine, Indonesia would no longer need to rely on vaccines manufactured abroad.

The availability of COVID-19 vaccines in early 2021 is expected to help Indonesia’s economy recover no later than mid-2021. When the population is healthy, so will the economy.

Related News: Thohir optimistic about red and white vaccine production in 2022
Related news: Indonesia explores cooperation with several vaccine producers

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