Sunday, September 24, 2023

Indonesia Set to Become mRNA-Based Vaccine Production Hub for Southeast Asia

Jakarta Globe
February 24, 2022 | 6:05 pm
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Junior high school students undergo medical checkup before getting Covid-19 vaccine jabs in Depok, West Java, on Sept. 10, 2021. (Uthan A. Rachim)
Junior high school students undergo medical checkup before getting Covid-19 vaccine jabs in Depok, West Java, on Sept. 10, 2021. (Uthan A. Rachim)

Jakarta. The World Health Organization has appointed Indonesia as one of the beneficiaries of mRNA-based vaccine technology transfer, signaling the organization's confidence in the country to become a hub for Covid-19 vaccine production in the Southeast Asia region, a minister said on Thursday.  

WHO announced on Wednesday that it would provide five low and middle-income countries to produce the mRNA vaccines, similar to those currently produced by giant multinational pharmaceutical corporations Pfizer and Moderna. 

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said this was aimed at closing the gap in production locations concentrated in high-income countries.

Apart from Indonesia, WHO said it would share the technology with Bangladesh, Pakistan, Serbia, and Vietnam to ramp up the manufacturing and supplies of the vaccine to low and middle-income countries. 

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Minister of State-Owned Enterprises Erick Thohir said WHO's announcement resulted from the intense lobby by the ministry, the health, and the foreign affairs ministry. 

"The good collaboration between the Minister of Health, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and us, from SOEs, has made WHO trust Indonesia to make mRNA vaccines," Erick said on Thursday. 

Erick said state-controlled pharmaceutical Bio Farma would produce mRNA vaccines. Bio Farma has long been known as the largest vaccine manufacturer in Southeast Asia with a capacity of 3.2 billion, including 14 types of vaccines exported to 150 countries, Erick said. 

"WHO's trust is only the beginning. This is also part of the massive transformation program we are carrying out at the state-controlled pharmaceutical holding," said Erick.

Erick said the pharmaceutical holding's transformation goal was to provide integrated, affordable, and customer-focused high-quality health products and services.

Erick added that Indonesia also established the health sector as one of the main focuses of the G20 Presidency. Erick assessed that the issue of vaccine distribution and technology transfer should be a priority in overcoming health sector problems.

"Because when we talk about health, we don't only talk about health activities, but we also talk about economics, education, social affairs, and others," he said. 

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