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Jakarta Post

Sinovac collaboration could see COVID-19 vaccine ready by early 2021, Bio Farma claims

  • Budi Sutrisno

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, July 17, 2020   /   11:30 am
Sinovac collaboration could see COVID-19 vaccine ready by early 2021, Bio Farma claims Workers conduct a final check on vaccines produced by PT Bio Farma at its factory in Bandung, West Java on Aug. 28, 2018. (Antara/Raisan Al Farisi)

State-owned pharmaceutical holding company PT Bio Farma claims a COVID-19 vaccine developed in cooperation with China-based biophramaceutical company Sinovac Biotech will be ready for domestic use by as soon as early next year.

Bio Farma president director Honesti Basyir said the company was ready to launch a Phase III clinical trial for the vaccine in Indonesia before authorities authorize its widespread usage. The trial was made possible thanks to the collaboration with Sinovac, which allowed a transfer of technology and vaccine substances between the two companies, he went on to say.

During a press briefing on Thursday, Honesti said the trial would commence soon in cooperation with Padjajaran University in Bandung, West Java, as well as the Health Ministry's research and development agency.

“It is anticipated that the preliminary result of this Phase III clinical trial can be submitted for emergency use authorization by the BPOM [Indonesian Food and Drug Monitoring Agency] by the first quarter of 2021,” Honesti said.

Read also: China's Sinopharm begins late stage trial of COVID-19 vaccine in UAE

He added the vaccine substances sent from China would be formulated in Bio Farma facilities. The Phase III trial in Indonesia would involve nearly 1,600 volunteers and be funded by Bio Farma.

Once the BPOM authorizes its usage in the country, the pharmaceutical company will produce the vaccine to meet national needs.

Honesti claimed Bio Farma's existing facility had the capacity to produce 100 million doses, but it could increase to 250 million as the company was building a new facility, slated to begin operations by the end of this year. 

The president director said Bio Farma decided to work with Sinovac because of the latter's product portfolio, which had passed the World Health Organization (WHO) prequalification assessment.

"It is evidence that Sinovac has implemented a robust quality management system," he said, praising the company for being among the first companies to conduct Phase III clinical trials for the vaccine in more than 30 countries outside China.

Bio Farma is currently in discussions with the Bill Gates-baked Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) over conducting clinical trials and increasing manufacturing capacity. Honesti claimed the CEPI was currently reviewing Indonesia's proposal. 

Read also: Bio Farma to start pre-clinical trial for COVID-19 vaccine in 2021

Bio Farma is also working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine under the national consortium led by the Ejikman Institute for Molecular Biology that also involves relevant ministries, institutions and universities.

However, the consortium might not be able to finish the first phase of the vaccine development of delivering a prototype clone until February 2021.

The pharmaceutical company predicted that a preclinical study under the national consortium could be launched in the second quarter of 2021, followed by a Phase I clinical trial in the third quarter of next year. Honesti said the vaccine could be available for mass production by the first quarter of 2022 at the earliest.