Bio Farma states Merah Putih vaccine for long term, Sinovac for short term; DPR member asks for halalness status of vaccine from China

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Apart from working with other countries in developing the coronavirus vaccine (Covid-19), Indonesia is also developing vaccines independently.

The domestically made vaccine is called Merah Putih Vaccine. PT Bio Farma’s Project Integration Management Research and Development Neni Nurainy said that the Merah Putih vaccine would be a long-term strategy.

“Indonesia with 270 million people must be ready with its own vaccine, that’s in collaboration with Eijkman,” said Neni during a discussion on the Trijaya Polemic, Saturday, August 15.

The mandate of the Ministry of Research and Technology, said Neni, is to develop vaccines quickly and independently. He considered, from an independent point of view, a pandemic might recur. So, Indonesia needs to be ready with a homemade vaccine.

The Merah Putih vaccine is being developed by the Covid-19 Research and Innovation Consortium led by the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology.

Meanwhile, the Sinovac vaccine from China will be Bio Farma’s short-term strategy. “Because this is a pandemic, we want to pursue a vaccine that can be made available to the public,” he said.

This domestically made Covid-19 vaccine is prioritized to meet 50 percent of the vaccine needs in Indonesia. This was conveyed by the Director of the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology Amin Soebandrio.

To get to the production process, this Merah Putih vaccine also takes a long time. This is because Indonesia is 4 months late in starting vaccine development. “We are trying to shorten the processes,” said Amin.

On the other hand, the Central Executive of the Indonesian Public Health Expert Association, Hermawan Saputra, assessed that the development of the Merah Putih vaccine is an ambitious project.

“Because the target is to complete 50 percent of the domestic vaccine needs,” said Hermawan in the Trijaya Polemic discussion, Saturday, August 15.

So, with this target, Hermawan said, that the priority of the Merah Putih vaccine project could not be carried out normatively like previous vaccine trials. However, it must be accelerated.

Although the government is currently focusing on joint testing of the Covid-19 vaccine from Sinovac from China and Bio Farma, the Merah Putih vaccine can also be a major project for the nation. “Because it concerns independence, sovereignty, and effectiveness,” he said.

Meanwhile, question arose about the halalness of the Covid-19 vaccine from China. Member of the People’s Representative Council (DPR) of Health Commission, Kurniasih Mufidayati, asked PT Bio Farma to ensure the halalness of the Covid-19 vaccine from the Sinovac company. “From a halal perspective like what? Because the majority of the nation needs it,” said Kurniasih during the Trijaya Polemic discussion, Saturday, August 15.

Furthermore, Kurniasih said that the parliament basically supports all vaccine products given to the public. She hopes that the Covid-19 vaccine, which is currently being tested in phase three, is not just rhetoric.

Responding to a question about the halalness of the vaccine, Neni Nurainy said that companies should not carry out self-declarations. This is because halal legitimacy comes from the fatwa of the Indonesian Ulema Council.

Even so, Neni ensured that Bio Farma always communicated with the MUI’s Institute for the Assessment of Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics to discuss halal certification. Besides that, he said the vaccine does not contain any harmful ingredients.

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