Indonesia university, Bio Farma team up in 2 Covid-19 candidate vaccines research

The research is expected to be complete in the next three years.
The research is expected to be complete in the next three years.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A joint research team of members from Padjadjaran University (Unpad) and state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma is researching two Covid-19 candidate vaccines.

The research is expected to be complete in the next three years.

Dr Neni Nuraini, Bio Farma's project integration manager for research and development, said the candidate vaccines were being developed in anticipation of another pandemic situation in the future.

The research aims to develop two candidate vaccines. The first one is a wheat-based recombinant protein vaccine, while the second one, which is funded by the Indonesia Science Fund (DIPI), is a peptide-based recombinant vaccine.

The wheat-based vaccine is targeted to be completed by 2022, and work on the peptide-based vaccine is set to be finished in 2023.

"Hopefully they'll already become candidate vaccine prototypes by then," Dr Neni was quoted by on Tuesday as saying.

She noted that the new research projects were separate from the work on Chinese-developed Sinovac vaccine.

"This vaccine development research is an alternative to various platforms of the Red and White vaccine, which is under preparation," she added.

Currently, Indonesia has secured a total of some 329 million vaccine doses, including about 125 million from Sinovac, 54 million from Novavax and 50 million from the global vaccine programme COVAX.

AstraZeneca's vaccines are expected to arrive in the second quarter of 2021 and Pfizer's in the third quarter.

Researching a vaccine alternative, Dr Neni said, would allow more chances for a successful vaccine development compared with depending on only one candidate vaccine.

In a previous report, Unpad's Covid-19 diagnostic research team coordinator Muhammad Yusuf said they were currently researching three candidate vaccines.

The two, in partnership with Bio Farma, are the peptide liposome-based and recombinant candidate vaccines. Meanwhile, the third candidate, in partnership with a private company, is a passive vaccine created out of chicken antibodies.

"Out of the three candidate vaccines, the passive vaccine possesses the biggest chance for a pre-clinical trial while the other two are still being developed," Dr Yusuf said on Tuesday.

On Dec 21, a group of scientists from Britain's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) discovered a new variant of coronavirus that has been spreading rapidly in Britain.

The new variant reportedly carries mutations that make children more susceptible to Covid-19 infection compared with the previous strains.

The Sinovac vaccine research team manager from Unpad, Dr Eddy Fadlyana, said there were not many reports of coronavirus mutation discoveries in Indonesia.

"As of now, there are only a few discoveries of coronavirus mutations worldwide. We predict that the vaccine will still be effective in two or three years' time," Dr Eddy said on Tuesday (Dec 29).

He noted that the Covid-19 vaccine, which is currently being developed, was created to combat the existing coronavirus strain before it mutated.

"We will observe if the mutation affects low antibody levels, for example, if the cases are still high after the vaccine has been administered to people. If so, we will develop another vaccine to adjust to the situation," he explained.