"There are six vaccine candidates that can be adopted as the Red and White COVID-19 vaccine," Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said.
Two of the candidates are expected to become ready for use after their production begins this year, Sadikin told ANTARA on the sidelines of a working visit to Jayapura city on Wednesday.
He admitted that Indonesia seems to have been a tad late in developing the indigenous vaccines, named Mera Putih or Red and White after the national flag, but said the government has demonstrated its seriousness towards the vaccine development initiative by forming special teams for the endeavor.
The availability of COVID-19 vaccine doses is crucial for every state across the globe because it will enable them to determine their COVID-19 mitigation policies, the minister explained.
"Now, there are only five countries producing COVID-19 vaccines. If one of them is unwilling to offer its vaccines, it will trigger difficulties," he pointed out.
Therefore, the Health Ministry supports fast-tracking the development of the Red and White vaccine candidates so they can be produced and used this year, he said.
ANTARA has earlier reported that the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology in Jakarta is developing one of the Red and White vaccine candidates.
It handed out the first batch of its Merah Putih (Red and White) vaccine seeds to state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma at the end of March.
PT Bio Farma is partnering with Eijkman to hold trials and produce its Merah Putih vaccine candidate, which is based on a recombinant protein subunit platform.
The vaccine seeds will have to undergo preclinical tests as well as Phase 1, 2, and 3 clinical trials before they can be allowed for use.
Coronavirus infections initially surfaced in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019.
Since then, COVID-19 has gripped over 215 countries and territories, including 34 provinces in Indonesia, leaving a huge number of fatalities in its wake.
Indonesia's coronavirus infections, which topped one million on January 26, 2021, have created grave public health and economic crises for the nation.
To safeguard Indonesians from the lethal virus, the Indonesian government has secured COVID-19 vaccine doses through bilateral and multilateral mechanisms.
Indonesia, for instance, has approved the use of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech, but it is also leaving no stone unturned to develop its own vaccine to fight the virus.
It has also rolled out a national vaccination program since January 13, 2021, with President Joko Widodo becoming the first recipient of the Sinovac vaccine jab.
The Health Ministry has projected that inoculating the 181.5 million people targeted by the vaccination program could take 15 months.
To attain herd immunity and free the nation from the clutches of the pandemic, Vice President Ma'ruf Amin has stressed on successfully administering the COVID-19 vaccine to the targeted population. (INE)
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EDITED BY INE