JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US$450 million loan to Indonesia to help PT Bio Farma, a state-owned vaccine supplier, procure and deliver safe and effective vaccines against the COVID-19. The project is supported by the Fund’ $9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX), which was launched in December 2020.

The program aimed to offer rapid and equitable vaccine-related support to the developing countries. The Responsive COVID-19 Vaccines for Recovery project will fund the purchase of at least 65 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for priority groups determined by the Indonesian government.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Indonesians. ADB will help the government and Bio Farma improve logistics management and deliver vaccines more effectively,” said the president of ADB, Masatsugu Asakawa in a written statement released today (03/31).

For a vaccine to be eligible for APVAX financing, it must meet one of three criteria. It must be procured via the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX), pre-qualified by the World Health Organization, or authorized by a Stringent Regulatory Authority.

ADB explained, the Indonesian government aims to vaccinate 181.5 million people against COVID-19 in one of the world’ biggest vaccination campaigns. The country recorded more than 1.5 million COVID-19 cases and 40,000 deaths as of March 30. The pandemic has significantly affected livelihoods, especially among the poor and vulnerable.

About 30 million people in Indonesia have lost jobs or have been forced to cut working hours, resulting in an increase in poverty. The project follows earlier ADB assistance to help Indonesia address the challenges posed by the pandemic.

This includes a $3 million Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund grant approved in April 2020 to help the ministry of health deliver critical medical equipment and supplies also a $1.5 billion COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure (CARES) Program loan as budget support for urgent public health, social, and economic assistance.

The CARES Program is co-financed by Australia’ foreign affairs and trade department, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, German development cooperation through KfW, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. ADB has also provided knowledge support for pandemic response options and vaccine deployment strategies.

Until end of this month, Indonesia has secured 52 million doses of raw material vaccines from Chinese drug-maker, Sinovac, after new arrival of another 16 million doses arrived on March 25. Currently, the state firm has produced around 20 million doses of vaccines per month from the raw material.

After April, said CEO of Bio Farma, Honesti Basyir, the capacity production will increase with the introduction of a new production line to 25 million doses per month. According to him, Indonesian government need funds around Rp68 trillion (US$4.72 billion) to produces vaccines in 2021.

Earlier, minister of health, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, has said that the country needs around 426 million doses of vaccines to to fulfill ‘herd immunity” for around 181 million Indonesian. To reached the targets, the government has ensured to meet the number of vaccines, he adds.

The government has signed a contract for 144 million doses of vaccine from Sinovac with an additional option to 100 million doses of vaccines. Beside, Indonesia wants to secure the vaccines from United States (US)’ drug-maker Pfizer and British’ AstraZeneca.

In the production side, said Basyir, the company will start the operating its new production facility in April to boost the manufacturing of vaccines. He remarked that the new facility will increase monthly vaccine production, from 12 million doses to over 25 million doses.

Bio Farma has imported vaccine raw material since January, and the state-run firm has bagged the contract for 140 million doses of vaccine raw material from China’ Sinovac Biotech. He conveyed, the negotiation is underway with China’ firm for securing an additional 120 million doses of vaccine raw material.

Then, said Basyir, Bio Farma would receive 30 million doses of vaccine in April. Then, supply of vaccines made by Novavax will arrive in the second quarter of this year. There will be 52 million doses of the vaccine from Novavax and imported by the unit, PT Indofarma Tbk (IDX: INAF).

The supply from Novavax will complement the doses of vaccines that have arrived in Indonesia, including from Sinovac and AstraZeneca. Bio Farma had recorded a total of 20.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine delivered to all regions. Of the total doses, 14.3 million were distributed to districts and cities, while 10.4 million doses of them were administered to Indonesians.

Written by Editorial Staff, Email: theinsiderstories@gmail.com