Tri Indah Oktavianti, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has established a national team to accelerate the development of a possible COVID-19 vaccine and to improve the country's resilience in responding to the pandemic.
The team was established through Presidential Decree No. 18/2020 on the national team for the acceleration of COVID-19 vaccine development, which was signed by the President on Sept. 3.
"[The team will seek] to improve the synergy between research, development, trials and the implementation of knowledge and technology [...] between the government and research institutions," Article 3 of the decree said.
While Jokowi is set to oversee the team, Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto has been appointed to chair the team's steering committee.
Research and Technology Minister and National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) head Bambang Brodjonegoro has been placed in charge of the development of a potential vaccine, with the assistance of Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir.
The Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister, the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Industry Minister, the Trade Minister, the Education and Culture Minister and the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) head have been appointed to the team as well.
"The COVID-19 vaccine development team will carry out their tasks starting from the date of the issuance of the decree until Dec. 31, 2021," Article 15 of the decree read, "Once the team has completed their tasks, the COVID-19 vaccine development activities will be carried out by the National Research and Innovation Agency."
The government has put the development of a COVID-19 vaccine on its list of top priorities and plans to set aside Rp 37 trillion (US$2.5 billion) for vaccine procurement next year.
Indonesia hopes to begin producing a locally developed COVID-19 candidate vaccine called Merah-Putih (red and white) – developed by a national consortium under the Research and Technology Ministry and led by the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology – by the middle of 2021.