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Jakarta Post

LIPI, UI join Merah Putih vaccine development team

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, December 4, 2020   /   06:24 pm
LIPI, UI join Merah Putih vaccine development team The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) and the University of Indonesia (UI) have joined the national team for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Shutterstock/siam.pukkato)

The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) and the University of Indonesia (UI) have joined the national team for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

The two organizations are now allowed to research COVID-19 candidate vaccines to help the country develop and produce one in the future – to be called the Merah Putih vaccine. 

Research and Technology Minister and National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) head Bambang Brodjonegoro said Indonesia would need many vaccine doses because of the size of its population. The country would also need doses for revaccination.

“Therefore, apart from having foreign partnerships for vaccine procurement, we also need to develop a vaccine locally in order to be self-reliant,” he said on Thursday, as quoted by kompas.id. “We hope that the involvement of the LIPI and UI can help meet vaccine needs in Indonesia.”

Previously, the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology and Airlangga University received the ministry’s approval to assist in the development of the Merah Putih vaccine. 

The government hoped to progress quickly through the development and testing phase.

“[The candidate vaccine] is about 55 percent through the laboratory stage,” said Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology head Amin Soebandrio in October, as quoted by tribunnews.com. “It is hoped that preclinical animal testing can be carried out next month, and if everything runs smoothly we can finish development of the vaccine by the end of the year, and early next year the vaccine concentrate can be submitted to Bio Farma."

The candidate vaccine is now set to undergo trials in February and March of next year.

Read also: BPOM drafts accelerated 'road map' for Merah Putih vaccine production by 2021

The Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and Gadjah Mada University (UGM) are also involved in the country’s vaccine development efforts. 

All of the locally developed candidate vaccines use strains of the virus found and analyzed in Indonesia. 

“The government will continuously support local COVID-19 vaccine development. The ministry and the BRIN have set a budget to support the development, which covers laboratory research to Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 human trials.

“In 2021, the budget will be around Rp 300 billion [US$21.24 million],” said Bambang. 

The government is also seeking private support for vaccine development and is offering a tax deduction of up to 300 percent.

Indonesia's Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) announced last week that the candidate vaccine could be authorized for emergency use before the clinical trials were complete. 

State-owned pharmaceutical holding company PT Bio Farma has started preparing for a vaccination program by developing its digital infrastructure. 

As of Nov. 26, Bio Farma was awaiting the results of phase three clinical trials of a candidate vaccine produced by Sinovac Biotech. (nkn)

Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.