‘No adverse reactions’ in subjects as Sinovac vaccine trial enters advanced stage

The vaccine candidate that has been touted as Indonesia’s great hope in the COVID-19 pandemic is so far safe for humans, a clinical trial has shown, with promising progress on its development potentially paving the way for imminent distribution.

Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech is currently conducting advanced clinical trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine in Bandung, West Java, working in collaboration with state-owned pharmaceutical holding company PT Bio Farma and Bandung’s Padjadjaran University. The government has said that it has secured 290 million doses of the vaccine candidate, which will be gradually delivered until the end of 2021.

But an update from Bio Farma CEO Honesti Basyir seems to indicate that the vaccine could be available as early as the start of 2021 if progress in the trials is anything to go by.

“There have been no adverse effects [on trial subjects] up to this point. Hopefully this will continue to go smoothly so by January we can get approval from BPOM (The Food and Drug Monitoring Agency) for production in January. Hopefully by the end of January or February we can start vaccinating,” Honesti said during a meeting with members of parliament today.

The trial, which was said would require at least six months to complete, began in August. Since that time, Honesti said 1,319 have been injected with the first dose of the vaccine candidate, while 656 among them have received their second shots. Of those, the blood samples of 244 subjects are being analyzed for the formation of antibodies.

The last stage of the trial is antibody analysis in subjects six months after the second shot.

“After the six months, we will reveal the results,” Honesti said.

Once the vaccine is available, Bio Farma says it will be available to the general public for around IDR200K (US$13.57) per dose. The pharmaceutical company said 170 million Indonesians, or 70 percent of the total population, would need to receive two shots of the vaccine in order for the country to achieve herd immunity towards COVID-19.

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