Merah Putih vaccine's preclinical trial phase projected by year-end

Merah Putih vaccine's preclinical trial phase projected by year-end

(ANTARA FOTO/Dhemas Reviyanto/wsj/pri.)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian government has hinted at the country's indigenous Merah Putih (Red-and-White) vaccine candidate projected to enter its preclinical trial phase on animals in Dec 2020.

Hence, the first phase of its clinical trial on humans can be conducted in the first quarter of 2021, Research and Technology Minister, concurrently Chairman of the National Agency for Research and Innovation Bambang P. S. Brodjonegoro stated.

"The Merah Putih vaccine candidate is developed by using the Indonesian isolate SARS-CoV-2 virus," he noted in a press statement that ANTARA quoted here on Thursday.

Indonesia's indigenous COVID-19 vaccine candidate is developed by scientists from the Jakarta-based Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), and four prestigious public universities.

The leading universities comprise the University of Indonesia (UI), Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), Airlangga University (Unair), and Gadjah Mada University (UGM).

Unlike the vaccine candidates that China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd and Sinopharm Ltd develop by using attenuated viruses, the Merah Putih vaccine candidate is developed by using the recombinant, deoxyribonucleic acid, and ribonucleic acid platform.

Brodjonegoro had earlier highlighted that the Merah Putih vaccine candidate is developed to secure COVID-19 vaccine stocks to meet the nation's demand for vaccination in the medium- and long-term.

The Indonesian government is striving to secure COVID-19 vaccine stocks for the short-, medium-, and long-term through a double-track mechanism involving cooperation with overseas partners and developing its own vaccine.

Indonesia's cooperation with overseas partners for securing the supply of COVID-19 vaccines targets fulfilling the nation's demand for vaccination in the short-term, Brodjonegoro stated.

The second strategy adopted by the government to secure the medium- and long-term availability of the vaccine is supporting the development of the indigenous Merah Putih vaccine candidate, he revealed.

Over the course of the past few months, the Indonesian government has been endeavoring to ensure adequate supply of vaccines for the entire nation.

Indonesia has also delivered an expression of interest to join the COVAX Initiative, co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI), and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

The COVAX Initiative aims to work with vaccine manufacturers to ensure that all supporting nations worldwide have quick and equitable access to safe, effective, and affordable COVID-19 vaccines, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi had noted recently.

Through the COVAX scheme, participating rich countries will be financing the COVID-19 vaccine development process from their national budgets and collaborating with 92 middle- and low-income nations through voluntary donations to ensure fair distribution of the vaccine.

The COVAX Initiative, which currently includes nine candidate vaccines developed via varied technologies and scientific approaches, is aimed at obtaining and supplying two billion doses of approved vaccines by the end of 2021.

Furthermore, the Indonesian Health Ministry had recently inked a letter of intent (LoI) with British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca PLC to secure 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in 2021.

Indonesia's cooperation with the British pharmaceutical company is part of the endeavors to secure supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, under which it had earlier signed a bilateral cooperation agreement with China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd and Sinopharm Ltd.

Currently, scientists globally are leaving no stone unturned to ensure timely development and production of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. To this end, Indonesia has expressed concerns over the risks and uncertainties pertaining to their development, Marsudi stated.

Indonesia has unswervingly drawn focus to the significance of having safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the minister stated during an online press conference from Geneva, Switzerland, on Friday.
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