Indonesia launches its first local COVID-19 vaccines

JAKARTA – The Indonesian leader on Thursday launched the country’s first COVID-19 vaccine to help reduce the world’s fourth most populous country’s reliance on imported vaccines.

President Joko Widodo announced the vaccine brand, IndoVac, as a new milestone for the Indonesian pharmaceutical industry that will manufacture primary series vaccines, booster vaccines and childhood vaccines, which have been in development since November 2021. .

“From now on, we can produce our own COVID-19 vaccine,” Widodo said at an unveiling ceremony in the West Java city of Bandung. “And so we have vaccine independence.”

During the ceremony, 15 residents who had not received any COVID-19 vaccines received their first IndoVac vaccines.

Indonesia’s Food and Drug Authority greenlighted IndoVac’s emergency use authorization in September, with efficacy over 80% after two injections. The vaccine has passed an audit by the country’s highest Islamic body that found the vaccine safe for consumption by Muslims – a particularly important factor in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

IndoVac, made by inserting the antigen’s genetic code into yeast cells, is being developed by state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma in collaboration with the US-based Baylor College of Medicine, a private, independent life sciences center. health in Houston, Texas.

Widodo said Bio Farma plans to produce 20 million doses of primary series vaccines this year and 40 million doses next year as the company expands its facilities. In 2024, production could increase further to reach 120 million doses per year, depending on demand and the market.

As of Thursday, 73% of the 234.6 million Indonesians eligible for vaccines had been fully vaccinated in two doses, and about 27% had received a first booster dose while only 0.3% had received a second booster.

Indonesia had largely recovered from its delta push, which was among the worst in Southeast Asia. Last July, a then-record of around 56,700 daily new cases saw the delta variant overwhelm hospitals on the main island of Java. In February, omicron set a new record of over 63,900 new infections.

Although cases fell sharply in late March and April, they have recently risen again with around 1,800 cases per day over the past week.

Overall, Indonesia has reported over 6.4 million infections and 158,263 deaths from COVID-19. The actual numbers are generally thought to be higher.

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