"This vaccine is our initial endeavor," Research and Technology Minister Bambang PS Brodjonegoro told a webinar highlighting health security concerns here on Thursday.
With the Merah Putih vaccine candidate, Indonesia is expected to be better equipped to cope with future pandemics more quickly, he said.
Due to the urgent need for ensuring public health, vaccine development has been made a part of the government's priorities, remarked Brodjonegoro, who also heads the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN).
The Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology in Jakarta has said it is planning to hand out vaccine seeds for the Merah Putih vaccine candidate to state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma at the end of March this year.
"The first batch of vaccine seeds will be handed out at the end of March, 2021," head of the Eijkman Institute, Amin Soebandrio, said recently.
PT Bio Farma has partnered with the Eijkman Institute to hold trials and produce the Merah Putih COVID-19 vaccine, developed using a recombinant protein subunit platform.
The vaccine seeds will likely be delivered as per schedule, Soebandrio said, adding that the recombinant protein platform is available and is in the process of being transitioned from the laboratory to the industry.
The vaccine seeds will be subject to preclinical tests as well as Phase 1, 2, and 3 clinical trials before being allowed for use, he informed.
Coronavirus infections initially surfaced in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019.
Since then, COVID-19 has spread across more than 215 countries and territories, including 34 provinces in Indonesia, leading to a huge number of deaths.
To safeguard Indonesians from the lethal virus, the Indonesian government has secured COVID-19 vaccine doses through bilateral and multilateral mechanisms.
While Indonesia has approved the use of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech, it is also leaving no stone unturned to develop its indigenous vaccine.
Indonesian scientists are currently rushing to develop Merah Putih, named after the country's national flag.
To win the fight against the coronavirus disease, Indonesia has rolled out a national vaccination program since January 13, 2021.
President Joko Widodo became the first recipient of the Sinovac vaccine jab.
The Health Ministry is planning to inoculate about 181.5 million people under the vaccination program, which is expected to take 15 months.
Indonesia's COVID-19 infection rate surpassed one million cases on January 26, 2021.
To attain herd immunity and free the nation from the clutches of the pandemic, Vice President Ma'ruf Amin has said due weightage needs to be attached to successfully administering the COVID-19 vaccine to the targeted population.
This is considering the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease has left the nation in grave public health and economic crises. (INE)
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