Indonesia aims to begin producing its locally developed Covid-19 vaccine candidate by the middle of next year, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said on Tuesday during a limited Cabinet meeting at the Bogor Palace, West Java.
The president claimed the national consortium tasked with developing the potential vaccine was currently in the process of making “vaccine seeds”.
“The process is 30 to 40 per cent done,” he said, expressing hope that clinical trials could begin early next year.
“God willing, the vaccine will be ready for production by the middle of 2021,” Jokowi said.
Named after the colour of Indonesia’s flag, the Merah Putih (red and white) vaccine candidate is being developed by a national consortium under the research and technology ministry, led by the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology.
The team, comprising around 10 young researchers, is developing a vaccine specifically for the strain of the virus that has spread in Indonesia.
Eijkman director Amin Soebandrio previously said the Merah Putih vaccine candidate was expected to cover at least 50 per cent of Indonesia’s vaccine needs.
Indonesia has also secured 290 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate, to be delivered until the end of next year, following recent ministerial visits to China and the UAE.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno LP Marsudi previously revealed that the country had secured a commitment to be sent 20-30 million doses of potential vaccines by the end of this year, some 80-130 million doses in the first quarter of next year and 210 million doses for the remainder of next year.
Among the suppliers is Nasdaq-listed Chinese pharmaceutical Sinovac Biotech Ltd, which has been closely cooperating with Indonesia to develop its vaccine candidate.
Together, they began Phase III clinical trials of the vaccine candidate last month, with tests being carried out on 1,620 volunteers in Bandung, West Java.
THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK