Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – The phase 3 clinical trial for the homegrown Covid-19 vaccine developed by state-run pharmaceutical company Bio Farma and US medical school Baylor College of Medicine officially kicked off on Thursday.
About 4,050 people between the age of 18 and 70 are taking part in the phase 3 clinical trial for the BUMN Vaccine, whose name derives from the Indonesian acronym for state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The clinical trial in question focuses on primary series vaccination, namely the first and second dose.
Indonesia plans to administer the BUMN vaccine for booster and children vaccination, since a large portion of the population are already double-dosed against Covid-19. Although this would require booster and pediatric clinical trials.
"Our vaccination [coverage] is pretty high, so it is very likely that we will later prioritize [using the BUMN vaccine] for boosters and children. [Covid-19] vaccines for children are still in short supply because not many vaccines have obtained the license to be administered for kids," Bio Farma president director Honesti Basyir told the press in Semarang on Thursday.
Bio Farma aims to have the emergency use authorization (EUA) from the National Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) for the BUMN vaccine by next month. Bio Farma will immediately begin mass production once it receives BPOM's thumbs up, according to Honesti.
"The annual production capacity for BUMN Vaccine stands at 120 million [doses] a year," Honesti said.
What about export?
The Covid-19 pandemic has taught Indonesia the importance of being self-reliant in the health sector.
SOE Minister Erick Thohir said that a homegrown Covid-19 vaccine could help Indonesia reduce its reliance on imported vaccines. It would pave the way for Indonesia's dream of becoming a global vaccine production hub. Indonesia, however, will focus on meeting the domestic demands first before exporting its vaccine to other countries.
"At the initial phase, we will prioritize our nation first. We have readied an [annual manufacturing capacity] of 120 million doses, but the total production capacity can actually reach 500 million [doses]," Erick told the same conference.
"If there is a need to upscale [the production], especially since Indonesia wishes to be the global vaccine production hub, we can increase [the capacity]," Erick said.
The Health Ministry reported that Indonesia has delivered the first Covid-19 vaccine dose to nearly its entire targeted population of about 208.2 million people.
As of Thursday noon, 200.7 million people have gotten the first dose. As many as 167.9 million people in Indonesia are double-dosed against Covid-19. Indonesia has administered 47.2 million booster doses to its population.