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Indonesia to Produce COVID Vaccine for Its Own Exclusive Use

Health workers in protective gear prepare the measles vaccine to be given to baby at a community health center in Tangerang, Indonesia, May 12, 2020.

Indonesia will be producing a coronavirus vaccine for itself due to concerns about global distribution of foreign-produced vaccines, the head of Indonesia’s national COVID-19 research team announced Thursday.

“It will be by Indonesia, from Indonesia, to Indonesia,” Ali Ghufron Mukti said during a streamed press conference alongside the country’s foreign minister, Retno Marsudi

Mukti cited the limited production capabilities and capacities of biotech companies worldwide, and “challenges” to the global supply chain as reasons for the necessity of Indonesia developing its own vaccine.

The U.S. government announced this week it reached an agreement with Gilead Sciences to have most of the biopharmaceutical company’s production of remdesivir, the only drug licensed so far to treat the coronavirus, available to the U.S. for the next three months.

The Indonesian government began discussing research for a vaccine in March, but did not voice intentions to develop and produce the vaccine solely for the country.

State-owned Bio Farma, the only vaccine maker in Indonesia, teamed up with Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech in early June. Mukti added that Bio Farma could conduct trials in the second half of next year.

“We are using our theory and we are optimistic that in the year 2021 and early 2021, this will be finished in the laboratory,” the COVID-19 research team head said.

In addition to the collaboration between Bio Farma and Sinovac, Mukti said private Indonesian pharmaceutical firm Kalbe Farma and South Korean biotech company Genexine were also cooperating to produce a vaccine.

According to John Hopkin’s Thursday tally of the coronavirus, Indonesia has had 59,394 confirmed cases of the virus and 2,987 deaths.