A researcher with the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) works on herbal medicine for possible treatment of Covid-19 at the institute’s laboratory in South Tangerang, Banten, on May 6. (Antara Photo /Muhammad Iqbal)

Indonesia Trials Quinine as Covid-19 Treatment


MAY 17, 2020

Jakarta. Indonesian health authorities are trialing quinine as a possible treatment of Covid-19 while also acquiring other kinds of medication touted as promising drugs in some other countries, a senior official has said.

The government has previously bought Avigan and hydroxychloroquine and is currently in the process to acquire Remdesivir.


“Other than that, we also intend to develop medicines using our own herbs and biodiversity. One of the candidate treatments being trialed is quinine,” Research and Technology Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said in a recent interview with Beritasatu TV.

Quinine, bitter pill made of the bark of the cinchona tree, was originally developed to cure malaria. It has been rarely used as medicine since its synthetic form named chloroquine was invented as prescription medicine for malaria.

“We don’t know yet if quinine is an effective treatment for Covid-19 in Indonesia. The point is that we are open to any possibility of cure,” Bambang said in the TV’s Interview with Claudius Boekan program.

“We are conducting clinical trials of various treatments that have been applied in other countries, and quinine comes as an alternative of our own,” Bambang said.

He didn’t specify how many patients were involved in the quinine trials.

Indonesia is also developing Covid-19 vaccine with the support of the Eijkman Institute, but a prototype won’t be available before March next year at the soonest, Bambang said.

“The Eijkman Institute has experience in researching coronavirus of different types during the past outbreaks. Now with their knowledge in Covid-19, institute chairman Professor Amin Subandrio told me in March it would take at least one year to develop a vaccine,” Bambang said.

If Indonesia or other countries manage to come up with a workable vaccine, the next major task will be to mass-produce it, he said.

“And this is a big country, so that [state-owned pharmaceutical company] Biofarma must get prepared to produce vaccine in a massive scale for immediate distribution among the people,” Bambang said.

Indonesia has a total of 17,025 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infections as of Saturday, including 1,089 deaths and 3,911 patients who have recovered from the disease.