Indonesia's national consortium for COVID-19 vaccine development is aiming to finish its work within the next 18 months in an effort to eradicate the coronavirus in the country.
"Vaccines usually take years to develop. However, given the emergency situation, we are currently expected to develop local vaccines in around 18 months," consortium chairman Ali Ghufron Mukti said during a press conference on Thursday.
He said the country had submitted 16 complete genome sequences of Indonesian strains to GISAID, an initiative that promotes the sharing of genetic data on influenza viruses and the coronavirus. Three of them have so far been classified as "unidentified strains", while one was identified as "type G".
Previous research identified at least three different types of coronavirus strains affecting the world – types G, S and V. Ali said that many samples sent from Indonesia apparently did not match the aforementioned three types, meaning that scientists had to develop local vaccines to combat the coronavirus strain in the country.
The whole genome sequencing is part of the initial stage of vaccine development, as it will allow scientists to determine the complete RNA sequence of specific coronavirus strains. Subsequently, scientists will be able to detect the antigen of the virus strain in Indonesia.
Apart from doing the sequencing, Indonesia is also collaborating with several countries, including South Korea, to develop a vaccine.
Local pharmaceutical company PT Kalbe Farma, for example, is working with a South Korean company for the development of a vaccine using a DNA virus platform.
“Phase two of the project’s clinical trial is scheduled for August 2020," Ali said.