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Jakarta Post

COVID-19: Bio Farma to produce kits for 50,000 PCR tests in May

  • Arya Dipa

    The Jakarta Post

Bandung, West Java   /   Wed, April 22, 2020   /   02:22 pm
COVID-19: Bio Farma to produce kits for 50,000 PCR tests in May French firefighters in Marseille wear protective equipment as they work at the PCR machine to detect SARS-CoV-2 in Marseille on April 3, during a strict lockdown in France to stop the spread of the coronavirus. (AFP/Christophe SIMON)

State-owned pharmaceutical company PT Bio Farma is set to produce 2,000 real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test kits for 50,000 tests in May.

Bio Farma general director Honesti Basyir said the Bandung-based company had cooperated with homegrown startup Nusantics to acquire prototypes of the test kits.

“Bio Farma will mass-produce [PCR test kits],” Honesti said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that every aspect of the production – including quality assurance, packaging and distribution – would be handled in-house.

The company’s spokesman, Iwan Setiawan, said Nusantics would create the primary design for the test kits and conduct early optimization on them.

“The test kits are the same ones used at the Health Ministry’s Health Research and Development Agency [Balitbangkes] and referral centers,” Iwan said via text.

Widely considered among experts as the “gold standard” of COVID-19 testing, the PCR test is expected to yield more conclusive results than its rapid counterpart.

Read also: Indonesia ready to produce ventilators, COVID-19 test kits to meet skyrocketing demand

Bio Farma’s involvement in the test kit production is stipulated in a decree on COVID-19 task force and technological innovation issued by the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT).

The pharmaceutical company has a production capacity of 15,000 test kits per day. Each kit is expected to accommodate 25 tests.

Bio Farma will increase its production target to 100,000 kits per day as soon as the first phase of the production is completed.

BPPT head Hammam Riza said the agency supported the production of PCR test kits in the country. The agency had also coordinated with Balitbangkes and the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology to acquire RNA samples that are essential for the production of PCR test kits, he said.

The government previously secured 50,000 PCR test kits on Monday. 

Doni Monardo, the head of the National COVID-19 rapid response task force, said President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had ordered the task force to conduct 10,000 PCR tests per day to expedite the detection of infected individuals and help curb the spread of the deadly virus. (rfa)