Govt open to vaccine cooperation with Pfizer: Chief of Staff

Govt open to vaccine cooperation with Pfizer: Chief of Staff

Presidential Chief of Staff, Moeldoko. (ANTARA/HO-Presidential Staff Office document)

We are not ruling out the possibility, but there are also technical problems in terms of the (Pfizer) vaccine’s treatment
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian government would welcome cooperation with US pharmaceutical major Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech for COVID-19 vaccine procurement, Presidential Chief of Staff, Moeldoko, said.

"We are not ruling out the possibility, but there are also technical problems in terms of the (Pfizer) vaccine’s treatment," he said in Jakarta on Thursday.

As reported earlier, Pfizer and BioNTech have claimed their COVID-19 vaccine has been found 90 percent effective in clinical trials. Their findings still need to be reviewed by independent expert groups and approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In Indonesia, clinical trials are currently on to test the efficacy of China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines and are scheduled for completion in April, 2021.

Moeldoko said it is certain that the first vaccine orientation will be conducted using Sinovac and Sinopharm shots.

“(Distribution of Pfizer and BioTech) Vaccines may face difficulties in some areas in regard to the cold chain (requirement). They have to be kept at a certain temperature, which means the distribution process from one area to another may face challenges in regard to the technical procedures," he explained.

The RNA vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech is based on genetic engineering technology and requires to be stored at a temperature of minus 80 degrees Celsius.

In Indonesia, it is still rather difficult to find a cold storage that can maintain a temperature of minus 80 degrees Celsius, Moeldoko said. In comparison, the temperature in a refrigerator's freezer section can be brought down to just minus 4 degrees Celsius.

“But, I think this is an opportunity for the government to save the people as much as possible. The technical requirements can be considered later, whether it is possible or not," Moeldoko said.

Indonesia's Eijkman Molecular Biology Institute is currently developing the Red-and-White vaccine, and this will also be taken into consideration while procuring vaccines, he added.

"The consideration is effectiveness, the second is price considerations, maybe technical considerations, and supplies, among others," he continued.

The government has signed an agreement to secure 143 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine concentrates, starting November, 2020. It will obtain 65 million vaccine concentrates from Sinovac, 15 million concentrates from Sinopharm, and 20 million concentrates from CanSino.

In mid-August, Indonesia also entered into a collaboration with G-42 from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has agreed to supply 10 million doses of its vaccine as part of a cooperation pact with PT Kimia Farma.

In addition, Indonesia has also secured 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca. The first consignment of the vaccine is expected to be delivered in the second quarter of 2021. (INE)

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