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Indonesia’s ‘Merah Putih’ vaccine candidate to be ready for production mid 2021: Jokowi

Ivany Atina Arbi The Jakarta Post Tue, September 1, 2020

A scientist works inside the research room for the Merah Putih vaccine candidate at state-owned pharmaceutical holding company PT Bio Farma’s office in Bandung, West Java, on Wednesday, Aug. 12. (Antara/Dhemas Reviyanto)

JAKARTA – Indonesia aims to begin producing its locally developed COVID-19 vaccine candidate by the middle of 2021, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said during a limited Cabinet meeting at the Bogor Palace, West Java, on Tuesday.

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 percent 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 color 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 said previously that the Merah Putih vaccine candidate was expected to cover at least 50 percent 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 United Arab Emirates. Foreign Minister 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 first quarter of next year and 210 million doses for the remainder of 2021.

Among the suppliers is China’s pharmaceutical Sinovac Biotech, which has been closely cooperating with Indonesia to develop its vaccine candidate. Together, they began phase III clinical trials of the vaccine candidate in August, with tests being carried out on 1,620 volunteers in Bandung, West Java.

Source: The Jakarta Post, Indonesia Tue, September 1, 2020

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