The Indonesian government is in talks with the United States government to form a partnership between state-owned pharmaceutical holding firm PT Bio Farma and US company Pfizer Inc to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, a state official has said.
Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said on Tuesday that the US had said that it was willing to help Indonesia on COVID-19 vaccine development.
“[US] Vice President [Mike] Pence and I talked for 15 minutes [during my visit to the US] about the vaccine and they are willing to help us with the development,” he said during his speech at the 2020 CEO Networking virtual event.
He also said that Deputy State-Owned Enterprises Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin held discussions with the US Health Secretary Office and the Indonesian Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) to follow up on the talk.
“We followed up the discussion through video call last night to partner Bio Farma with Pfizer on the vaccine development,” said Luhut.
Pfizer announced on Nov. 9 that its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, developed along with its German partner BioNTech SE, was more than 90 percent effective based on initial trial results. It is expected to seek US emergency use authorization this month.
In the meantime, Budi said during the same event that the government had contacted seven to eight pharmaceutical companies on the World Health Organization’s list of approved vaccine developers.
“We have formally contacted them so we can have options to decide which vaccine is the most suitable for us,” he said.
In addition to pursuing the bilateral partnership, Indonesia is also utilizing a multilateral approach to find the best COVID-19 vaccine by participating in organizations such as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI).
Indonesia saw 4,192 new cases on Tuesday, official data show, putting the country's total number of infections at more than 506,300 with a death toll of 16,111.