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The Virus and The Vaccine So Far

NEWS | 4 July 2020
The Virus and The Vaccine So Far
As the Covid-19 figure set a significant milestone, scientists are in a rush to make sure that at least 100 million vaccines will be available worldwide by the end of 2020. Photo courtesy of unsplash.com

A vaccine to ward off disease caused by SARS-Cov-2 is long-awaited by every country exposed. As the virus has widely transmitted to almost all countries in the world with more than 10 million cases in total, health agencies and the team of researchers are accelerating the trail for the vaccine to make sure that the herd immunity will be available by the end of the year.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has targeted there are at least 100 million Covid-19 vaccines will be ready to be distributed worldwide in the last quarter of 2020. WHO is optimistic that billions of vaccines will be available nationwide in 2021. Countries including the UK, the US, China, Africa, as well as Indonesia have been developing vaccines for the Covid-19 disease. Indonesia alone needs at least 340 million vaccines for 170 million people, according to the Minister of Home Affairs, Tito Karnavian. 

There are two major progresses in vaccine development achieved by two pharmaceutical companies, AstraZeneca and Moderna. The WHO’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan stated on daily press briefing that there are leading 15 vaccine proposals that have entered clinical trials among 200 candidates, Reuters reported.

AstraZeneca, the British drugmaker, has already started mid to large scale human trials of the vaccine developed by researchers at the University of Oxford. While Moderna, the American biotech company has delayed the trials of their vaccine but plan to conduct the clinical tests as soon as possible by the least mid-July. WHO is currently in contact with multiple Chinese manufacturers, including Sinovac (SVA.O), on the potential vaccine, Swaminathan stated in the recent press briefing in Geneva. 

“We do know that Moderna’s vaccine is also going to go into phase three clinical trials, probably from the middle of July, and so that vaccine candidate is not far behind. But I think AstraZeneca certainly has a more global scope at the moment in terms of where they are doing and planning their vaccine trials,” said the Indian scientist.

A WHO-led coalition fighting the pandemic on Friday asked the government and private sector donors to help raise USD 31.3 billion in the next 12 months to develop and deliver tests, treatments and vaccines for the disease.

In Indonesia, Bio Farma, as the holding company of the state-owned enterprise (BUMN) in the pharmaceutical sector, will partner with China to develop the production of the coronavirus vaccine in the country.

Bio Farma President Director, Honesti Basyir, said that the Indonesia drugmaker is still communicating with the vaccine agency, Sinovac Biotech, after knowing that China has already passed the second phase of clinical trials for the vaccine. "We are also coordinating with them to see if the next clinical trial of vaccine and also for the mass production can later be done at Bio Farma, Basir said on virtual limited meeting with House of Representative (DPR) in late June.

In addition, Bio Farma is also working towards a collaboration with The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and waiting for the proposal review. 

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Research and Innovation Consortium Covid-19 Ministry of Research and Technology Ali Ghufron Mukti said that Indonesia needs to meet its own vaccine supply because of concerns about the global distribution of vaccines produced by foreign countries will cost more time. 

Indonesia can’t only depend on foreign vaccine suppliers as the country has seen more citizens got infected by the virus to remind that the country must be independent to provide the vaccine. "It will be developed by Indonesia, from Indonesia, for Indonesia," Mukti said in a press conference at the Presidential palace on Thursday, 2 July. 

The consortium developed the vaccine using the recombinant protein method from the Covid-19 strain as the country already has the technology to develop this specific research. The Ministry of Research and Technology also stated that the country needs IDR 26,4 trillion on the budget to provide massive vaccine distribution to different regions in the archipelago nation.