A medical worker collects mucosal swab from a man in Pontianak, West Kalimanatan on Monday. (Antara Photo/Jessica Helena Wuysang)

The More, The Merrier: China, UAE Offer Indonesia Partnership on Covid-19 Vaccine

BY :JAYANTY NADA SHOFA, ADITYA L. DJONO

JULY 10, 2020

Jakarta. A United Arab Emirates-China consortium has offered Indonesia to join forces for research and production on a coronavirus vaccine, taking part in an international partnership to find the vaccine that can stop the spread of Covid-19 disease. 

UAE's artificial intelligence and cloud computing company Group 42 (G42) and pharmaceutical giant China National Biotec Group (CNBG) Sinopharm have recently signed a clinical trial agreement. The partnership marks the world's first phase III clinical trial of a Covid-19 vaccine. This phase will assess its safety and effectiveness in a much larger sample, according to Dubai-based media Gulf News. 

The clinical trials are taking place in Abu Dhabi under the supervision of the city's health department.

The consortium has asked Indonesia's state-controlled vaccine producer Bio Farma to lend a hand.

"They have entered the Phase III on clinical trials, and they are asking Bio Farma for joint research and production," Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment spokesman Jodi Mahardi told Jakarta Globe's sister publication Suara Pembaruan on Monday.

Jodi said that the offer is not far off from President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's close ties with UAE crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed.

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan is also reportedly in intense communication with the UAE.

According to Jodi, the offer is still in discussion as Indonesia seeks to take part in not only the production but also the research. Jodi is also confident in Bio Farma's production capacity of a whopping 400 million vaccines per year.

With a capacity that big, Bio Farma will produce vaccines for not only the Indonesian market but also the global market, he said.

Minister Luhut has also alluded to the partnership with UAE on a recent briefing to ambassador candidates at the Foreign Ministry.

"UAE is very keen on working together with an Indonesian company to produce vaccines and is planning to produce up to a million vaccines per year. For future research and innovation, the three countries will cooperate," Luhut said in Jakarta on Thursday, as quoted Antara news agency, without mentioning the countries.

Made in Indonesia

Meanwhile, a Covid-19 consortium spearheaded by the Research and Technology Ministry is ramping up their development on Indonesia's very own coronavirus vaccine. Involved in the consortium are Eijkman Molecular Biology Institute and Bio Farma.

The consortium head Ali Ghufron Mukti predicts that the local vaccine will be mass-produced by mid-2021, as quoted by Covid-19 Task Force spokesperson Reisa Broto Asmoro at a press conference in Jakarta on Tuesday. 

The vaccine will first be prioritized for the high-risk population, such as the elders and those with comorbid conditions.

The process requires fifteen stages to complete, and Indonesia has passed eight of them. It would, however, take a long time to finish off the remaining steps. Thus, the public will still need to strictly comply with the health protocols before a vaccine is found, Reisa said.

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