Indonesia books 50 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from Sinovac

Indonesia books 50 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from Sinovac

Indonesia and China COVID-19 vaccine race
Indonesia will test Sinovac Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine candidate on 1,620 people over a period of six months. (Photo: Kiki Siregar)  

JAKARTA: China's Sinovac Biotech has committed to provide up to 50 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Indonesia's government between November and March, a minister said, as the Southeast Asian nation seeks to secure its supply as cases rise unabated.

During a visit to China, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said a preliminary agreement had been signed with Sinovac for bulk purchase and supply of the vaccine, CoronaVac, from November to March, after which Indonesia's state-owned Bio Farma would get priority access until end-2021.

"Indonesia sees a strong commitment from China's industries to forge partnerships and a strong commitment from its government to foster those partnerships," she said late on Thursday (Aug 20) via video.

Sinovac did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday and Bio Farma said in a statement on Friday evening that the 50 million bulk would come in stages: 10 million for each month starting in November. 

Indonesia is keen to secure a vaccine for its 260 million people and develop its own, amid concern among some developing countries about competition for access.

The country reported 2,197 new COVID-19 infections on Friday, taking the total number of cases to 149,408.

Health ministry data showed an additional 82 deaths, taking the total to 6,500, the highest COVID-19 death toll in Southeast Asia.

READ: Indonesia to gain priority access to Chinese firm's COVID-19 vaccine formula for taking part in human trial​​​​​​​

Phase 3 trials for Sinovac's CoronaVac began last week in Indonesia involving 1,620 volunteers.

Bio Farma is involved in the development of the vaccine and has said Indonesia should have capacity to produce 250 million doses a year by the end of 2020, pending human trials.

In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, research minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said Indonesia was developing its own COVID-19 innoculation, dubbed the "red and white" vaccine after the colours of the national flag.

Brodjonegoro expected production by Bio Farma to start sometime in 2021.

"Obtaining vaccines entails risk, uncertainty," he said. "Even if there are other countries or parties who have found effective vaccines, we need to make our own vaccine for COVID-19."

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Source: Reuters/jt