Indonesia’s Kalbe Works on Vaccine as Virus Surges by Record

Indonesia’s biggest pharmaceutical company plans to distribute vaccines by the end of next year as the country grapples with one of Asia’s biggest coronavirus outbreaks.

PT Kalbe Farma expects to begin phase 2 of clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine in November, after its South Korean partner biotech firm Genexine is set to complete phase 1 trials in October, President Director Vidjongtius said by phone on Thursday.

There are faster-moving efforts around the world that have reached the final stages of testing their vaccine’s efficacy, while front-runners in China have sent their shots to hotspots including Indonesia for final-stage trials. As superpowers like the U.S. secure deals to procure billions of doses, poorer countries from Thailand to Nigeria are researching their own vaccines amid concern they might fall last in line for the shots.

Kalbe joins state-owned drugmaker PT Bio Farma with plans to produce the vaccine locally as soon as January as the pandemic shows no signs of easing. Indonesia marked another record increase in the number of new coronavirus cases, adding 2,719 confirmed infections on Thursday to the total 162,884 — triple the number seen at the end of June.

The phase 2 trials for the DNA vaccine called GX-19 may involve up to 600 people in Indonesia alone and is set to last until May 2021, Vidjongtius said. Kalbe plans to buy the finished product from Genexine to distribute locally and may spend 1 trillion rupiah ($68.3 million) to build a plant with annual capacity to produce up to 30 million doses.

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