Indonesia developing its own Covid vaccine: envoy

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Indonesia is fully aware that ‘no one is safe until everyone is safe’. Therefore, at global level Indonesia along with UN is ensuring that every country has rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines once safe and effective vaccines become licensed

ANSAR Mehmood Bhatti

ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of Indoneisa to Pakistan Adam Tugio has said that it is universally agreed that Covid-19 pandemic is an extraordinary situation so that the response must also be extraordinary, both at the national and global levels. This pandemic which was initially viewed as a health issue, has been then developed into an issue that has a deep global impact on socio-economic aspects. Globalization itself has a role in the spread of COVID-19, where the movement of people becomes limitless and results in uncontrolled spread, and affected almost all over the world, including Indonesia.

The Ambassador expressed these views during an exclusive interview with daily Islamabad Post. His detailed interview shall be published in the March issue of CENTRLINE.

The ambassador further said, for Indonesia the first impact was on the household consumption or purchasing power, which is the 60 percent support for the economy, fall deeply. On the other hand, the pandemic also causes prolonged uncertainty so that investment weakens and has implications for the cessation of business. The third impact where the entire world is experiencing a weakening economy, causing commodity prices to fall and Indonesian exports to several countries also declined deeply.

He said, anticipating the worse impact, Indonesia has taken several strategic steps both at the national and global levels by developing National Economic Recovery Program (NERP). In sum, the strategy addresses the health emergency, and simultaneously allocating safety net for social protection program, and by providing stimulus for SME industries and to boost domestic consumption.

The government at national level provides NERP a stimulus up to Rp. 700 Trillion (approx. USD 48 billion), allocated to healthcare sectors, strengthening social safety nets, and as an incentive for micro, small and medium businesses. The other part of the stimulus is targeted for business incentives, which include tax incentives, to support ministries and regional administrations, and also to stimulus measures for state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and labor-intensive businesses. The bigger allocation for corporations also allocated as working capital loans for labor-intensive businesses. Part of this fund was also allocated to support healthcare industry, such as production of medical equipment, masks, including vaccines. On vaccine itself, Indonesia is now developing a homegrown vaccine namely ‘Merah Putih’ vaccine – representing the country’s red and white flag – that expected to start clinical trial by end of this year.

Like other countries, Indonesia is also enforcing health protocol namely ‘3M’. The 3M stands for “menggunakan masker” (mask-wearing), “mencucitangan” (hand-washing) and “menjagajarak” (social-distancing). Simultaneously, we use ‘3T’ – Tract, Tracing and Treatment. The later refers to building pocket of small isolation and health centers to prevent spreading of corona virus to wider regions. Lockdown policy was also enacted in different scales including Large-scale Social Restriction (PSBB) policy from early April 2020 and the government periodically reviews this policy, taking into account the latest development.

Indonesia is fully aware that ‘no one is safe until everyone is safe’.Therefore, at global level Indonesia along with UN is ensuring that every country has rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines once safe and effective vaccines become licensed. Recently Indonesian Foreign Minister, RetnoMarsudi was appointed as Co-Chair of the COVAX AMC Engagement Group, initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Vaccine Alliance (GAVI). Along with Ethiopian Health Minister and Canadian Minister of International Development, Foreign Minister Marsudi will lead the COVID-19 vaccine procurement and distribution program for 92 COVAX AMC member countries.

In the United Nations, Indonesia initiated a resolution on International cooperation to address challenges faced by seafarers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to support global supply chains. The resolution secured co-sponsorships from more than 70 countries and was the first General Assembly resolution that recognized the contribution of seafarers to global supply chains. 

The resolution is an important breakthrough in galvanizing international attention to maritime safety issues, particularly the well-being of seafarers in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Seafarers around the world face grave challenges as Covid-19-related restrictions render crew changes and repatriation of seafarers difficult. It is hoped that the resolution will encourage international cooperation in facilitating the change of crew members, an important factor in seaborne trade and the global supply chain.

 In terms of availability of medical equipment around the world, Indonesia also calls on the importance of creating a voluntary list of manufactures related to personal health and medical devices. Since at the beginning of the pandemic, many countries had difficulty getting materials for these devices so that a voluntary list should be created to facilitate access for countries in need.

This step would allow state and business sector to be able to meet the needs of their countries and on a wider scale to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic which is sweeping across the globe.

Ambassador Tugio further said, Indonesia is also stimulating a travel corridor arrangement for Southeast Asian countries, by which the countries that are successfully containing the outbreak can open their borders to each other to allow free movement of essential business travelers within the bubble.

 Currently due to the recent development of the COVID-19 situation and the new variant of the COVID-19 Indonesia temporary conducts entry restriction into the territory of the country.