Indonesia is currently working to make its own coronavirus or COVID-19 vaccine next year, amid the growing anxiety that developing nations can have difficulty getting access to a future jab, the head of Indonesia's national COVID-19 research team mentioned on Thursday.

"The production capability and capacity of biotech companies in the world is, we know, limited, and global supply chains also have challenges," Ali Ghufron Mukti, the head of the innovation team at the research and technology ministry of Indonesia, mentioned in a streamed press conference alongside the nation's foreign minister.

"Therefore, it is necessary for Indonesia to develop its own COVID-19 vaccine. And it will be by Indonesia, from Indonesia, to Indonesia," he said. "We are using our theory and we are optimistic that in the year 2021 and early 2021, this will be finished in the laboratory," he said, adding state-owned firm Bio Farma could conduct trials in the second half of next year.

Indonesia to Make its Own COVID-19 Vaccine

China Human trial
China COVID-19 vaccine trial (Representational picture) Pixabay

Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has in recent months spoken about the need for developing countries to have access to any future vaccine, amid concern that rich countries would try to corner a limited supply. Such concerns increased this week when the United States announced it had bought up most of the global supply of Gilead Sciences Inc.'s drug remdesivir, shown to speed up recovery times from COVID-19.

The pandemic has sparked a race to find a vaccine, with more than 100 in development and around a dozen already being tested in humans. On Thursday, Mukti also outlined efforts underway between local and foreign pharmaceutical companies to mass-produce a vaccine in Indonesia. A COVID-19 Vaccine Development Team has been tasked with guaranteeing the availability of a vaccine nationally within the next 12 months.

Honesti Basyir, the director of Bio Farma, told Reuters in late June it was working with Chinese firm Sinovac on a vaccine that would enter the third phase of clinical trials in humans this month. If the trial is successful, it could start production in the first quarter of next year with a minimum of 100 million doses.

With a population of more than 265 million, Indonesia estimates it would need more than 352 million shots of a two-dose vaccine. On Thursday Indonesia recorded 1,624 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily rise so far, taking the total numbers of cases to 59,394. In addition to Bio Farma and Sinovac, Mukti said private Indonesian pharmaceutical firm Kalbe Farma and the South Korean biotech company Genexine were cooperating to produce a vaccine.

(With agency inputs)