Govt Eyes to Mass-produce Merah Putih COVID-19 Vaccine in 2021

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Markus Wisnu Murti

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  • Scientists work in the Merah Putih vaccine research facility of the Bio Farma office in Bandung, Wednesday, August 12, 2020. ANTARA/Dhemas Reviyanto

    Scientists work in the Merah Putih vaccine research facility of the Bio Farma office in Bandung, Wednesday, August 12, 2020. ANTARA/Dhemas Reviyanto

    TEMPO.CO, JakartaThe government is eyeing to mass-produce a domestic COVID-19 vaccine dubbed the Merah Putih (red and white) vaccine in the third quarter of 2021. Research and Technology Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said there were now six vaccine candidates being tested by a number of institutions and universities.

    The vaccine candidates are being developed by the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI), the Bandung Institute of Technology, the Airlangga University in Surabaya, the University of Indonesia, and the University of Gadjah Mada.

    “Next year, it [the vaccine candidates] will be sent to PT Bio Farma for the first stage of clinical trials. The first test will be carried out in the first quarter of 2021. We hope in the third quarter, the mass production will be started,” said Bambang in a Live Instagram with Tempo on Monday, October 12, 2020.

    Like other antibodies, the Merah Putih vaccine will go through three phases of testing to analyze its side effects and safety. After the production, the vaccine will be distributed across the archipelago to meet the long-term needs of immunization. 

    Even though the government has procured anti-virus from abroad, Bambang said that the need for vaccines in the country would continue to increase. Moreover, it will be used for life and people may need two or more injections. “Let alone that COVID-19 has never happened before,” said Bambang.

    He reiterated that the Merah Putih vaccine would be produced by state pharmaceutical firm Bio Farma and other private companies. If the country’s needs have been met, it is possible to export the vaccine, Bambang added.

    Read: Health Workers, Teachers, Legislators, Prioritized for COVID-19 Vaccination

    FRANCISCA CHRISTY ROSANA