Jakarta – West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil has shared his experience as one of the more than 1,000 volunteers in Indonesia's recent COVID-19 vaccine trials.
As many as 1,620 volunteers were involved in third phase trials of a potential vaccine at Padjadjaran University in Bandung, West Java, which was also monitored by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
"The first batch of trials involved 100 volunteers. The second batch was given to between 100 and 1,000 volunteers, while the last batch was given to the remaining volunteers for a total of 1,620," Ridwan told Reisa Brotoasmoro, the national COVID-19 task force spokeswoman, in a video aired by the Presidential Secretariat's official YouTube channel on Oct. 10.
He explained that he attended five sessions for the trials. The first session included a COVID-19 swab test, rapid test and other similar tests to determine the condition of the governor's body.
The governor received the first vaccine-trial shot in the second session, and the second shot in the third session. He then underwent post-shot medical checkups, which included blood testing, in the fourth and fifth sessions in order to examine his body's reaction after receiving the potential vaccine.
"[The follow-up checks] were to see whether or not my body had produced more antibodies after getting the shots. If the result showed that my antibodies added-up up to 90 percent, it meant my body was ready to fight off the coronavirus.
"I will get a second blood test in December," said Ridwan, adding that at the time of speaking he had not experienced any side effects from the trials.
If the vaccine-trial committee finds the results from the blood tests in December to be successful, the government will carry on with mass production of the vaccine before organizing a nationwide vaccination program.
However, the governor explained that a number of people still questioned whether the potential vaccine was safe, citing public comments on a widely circulated photograph of him taken during a session of the trials.
"Those who did not understand made comments that I might be lying, based on the use of certain needles for blood testing. The public might think that the trials used old-styled needles, while in fact we used modern ones, called vacutainer," said Ridwan, referring to the blood collection tube, which is a sterile glass or plastic test tube with a colored rubber stopper creating a vacuum seal inside of the tube.
Therefore, he urged the public to educate themselves to avoid falling for misinformation, especially regarding the vaccine candidate trials.
Indonesia has forged cooperation with several countries regarding the supply of potential vaccines.
China's Sinovac Biotech, in partnership with Bio Farma, is running late-stage human trials of a candidate vaccine in Bandung, West Java. The government has also looked into partnerships with two other Chinese drug manufacturers, Sinopharm and CanSino Biologics. The Research and Technology Ministry, meanwhile, is leading a national consortium comprising research bodies and universities to develop the homemade Merah Putih vaccine. (nkn)