Indonesia launches its first home-grown COVID-19 vaccine

Indonesia’s leader launched the country’s first home-grown COVID-19 shot Thursday to help reduce its dependence on imported vaccines.

President Joko Widodo announced the vaccine brand, IndoVac, as a new milestone for the world’s fourth-most populous country. Indonesia’s pharmaceutical industry will manufacture primary series vaccines as well as boosters and shots for children, which have been in development since November 2021.

“From now on, we can produce our own COVID-19 vaccine,” said the president, known as Jokowi, in an unveiling ceremony in Bandung, capital of the West Java province. “And so we have independence in vaccine matters.”

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

Indonesia’s Food and Drug Authority granted emergency use authorization of IndoVac in September. The vaccine passed an audit by the country’s highest Islamic body that the shot is fit for consumption by Muslims — a particularly important factor in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

IndoVac, made by inserting the genetic code for the antigen into yeast cells, is developed by the state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma in collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Jokowi said Bio Farma plans to produce 20 million doses of primary series vaccine this year and 40 million doses next year as the company expands its facilities. In 2024, production may further increase to 120 million doses a year, depending on demand and the market.

As of Thursday, 73% of Indonesia’s 234.6 million people eligible for shots were fully vaccinated, and about 27% had a first booster dose while just 0.3% had a second booster.

Overall, Indonesia has reported more than 6.4 million infections and 158,263 deaths from COVID-19. The actual numbers are widely believed to be higher.

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