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Jakarta Post

From test kits to medical robots, research ministry launches innovations in fight against COVID-19

  • Dyaning Pangestika
    Dyaning Pangestika

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, May 21, 2020   /   10:13 am
From test kits to medical robots, research ministry launches innovations in fight against COVID-19 Research and Technology Minister and National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) head Bambang Brodjonegoro (JP/Seto Wardhana)

The National Research and Innovation Agency’s (BRIN) COVID-19 research consortium launched nine new inventions to support Indonesia’s advanced pandemic countermeasure on Wednesday.

Research and Technology Minister and BRIN head Bambang Brodjonegoro said he hoped the new products would become the nation’s templates in terms of medical innovation.

“We want to be a part of these [COVID-19] countermeasures. We realize that research and innovation will play a pivotal role in overcoming this pandemic,” Bambang said during the virtual launch ceremony on Wednesday.

The launch of the innovations was split into four categories: prevention measures, screening and diagnosis, medical equipment, and therapy and medication.

Read also: Researchers face uphill battle to help with COVID-19 fight

Among the innovations in the screening and diagnosis category were test kits for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing as well as rapid diagnostics developed by universities as well as the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT).

“[We hope to] start mass production of 50,000 PCR test kits by the end of May,” said Bambang.

Under the category of medical equipment, the consortium has also developed ventilators to be used by patients as well as level-two biosafety (BSL-2) mobile laboratories, which will allow health authorities to conduct COVID-19 testing almost everywhere.

The research consortium will also produce medical-assistance robots, named RAISA, to help in providing medicine to hospitalized patients.

It will also develop several medicines to treat COVID-19 patients, including convalescent plasma taken from recovered patients as well as herbal immunomodulator and antiviral medicines, respectively, improve the body’s immune system and relieve symptoms in patients.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who attended the virtual launch ceremony, lauded the innovations: “I feel optimistic that we can finally produce things that we have never thought of before on our own.”

Bambang went on to say the research consortium had also jumped on the bandwagon of COVID-19 vaccine production, as it had coordinated with international partners on the matter.

Read also: Indonesia targets local COVID-19 strain in Eijkman-led 2022 vaccine initiative

Separately, the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology has managed to reveal the seven whole genome sequences of the novel coronavirus sample in Indonesia and submitted them to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID).

“However, we still have a long way to go to discover a vaccine. Its development requires cooperation from various parties,” Bambang said.

The ministry and BRIN formed the consortium to focus research on COVID-19 preventive and mitigation measures. It involved state institutions as well as the private sector and universities that were adept at health-related studies.