Indonesia’s Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin holds a vial of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine used in a vaccination program in Surabaya city, Indonesia on March 23 – Photo: REUTERS
On September 16, Reuters news agency reported that Indonesia was in talks with the World Health Organization (WHO) and six pharmaceutical companies to become a global vaccine production hub.
This information was revealed by Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin of Indonesia in an exclusive interview with Reuters. This is also the first time he has provided details about this ambitious strategy.
Mr. Budi Gunadi Sadikin said Indonesia will launch this initiative by giving priority to buying COVID-19 vaccines from companies that share technology and set up operating bases in the country of thousands of islands.
“We are working with WHO to become one of the global mRNA technology vaccine production hubs,” said Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin, adding that he has lobbied directly with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. during a visit to Europe earlier this month.
“The WHO has chosen South Africa as the first vaccine production site, and I would say that Indonesia should be the second, it would make sense,” said Budi Gunadi Sadikin.
New “technology transfer centers” that are part of WHO’s strategy to distribute vaccines more widely globally and build capacity in developing countries to produce next-generation vaccines like Moderna and Pfizer’s mRNA vaccines that help deal with new virus variants.
Indonesia’s health minister said the country is keen to build expertise in mRNA technology vaccines, as well as viral vector vaccines, such as those produced by AstraZeneca.
A WHO spokesperson said Indonesia is one of 25 low- and middle-income countries that have expressed interest in becoming a vaccine production hub. However, this person declined to say whether Indonesia is the leading candidate.