Makassar, South Sulawesi. A vaccine that officials claim can prevent people contracting bird flu will be mass-produced by state pharmaceutical company Bio Farma by next year.
“I am grateful that we have made a breakthrough,” Research and Technology Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta said on Thursday in Makassar.
“The bird flu spores have been found. We now only need to breed them and mass-produce them.”
Gusti told reporters that the spores would later be made into a vaccine, adding that the ministry had also started developing vaccines for infants and elementary school children.
“We know that every year we buy at least five to seven million vaccines for infants from overseas that drain our money in addition to more than 12 million vaccines for school-aged children. That’s why we will continue to conduct research so that we can produce them domestically,” Gusti said.
The vaccine is the result of 10 years of intensive research, the minister added. The ministry has plans to introduce a sample of the vaccine on Aug. 10 to coincide with the 17th National Technology Awakening Day.
The government has also formed a consortium and is looking to develop vaccines for Hepatitis B and C.
Gusti added that he also continued to encourage small and medium enterprises to develop vaccines.
Bird flu hit the country hardest in 2005, after which the attacks eased significantly. But the virus has re-emerged since last year, killing nine people in 2011.
Concerns about bird flu attacks surfaced following reports of deaths in Indonesia, Cambodia, China and Vietnam.
Also in August, the ministry will exhibit an electric vehicle that it recently launched and also plans to mass-produce, adding that it only needs to be charged once for a travel range of 150 kilometers.
Two prototypes of the car were rolled out last month at the National Monument (Monas) Park in Central Jakarta by researchers from the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).
In a recent test, the researchers almost managed to complete a round trip in the car from Jakarta to Bandung on a single charge. The distance each way is about 130 kilometers.
“This car is fueled entirely by electricity and is not a hybrid vehicle,” said Agus Hoetman, an adviser to Gusti.
“We are currently testing it for urban use,” he said, adding that the car was particularly suited for the stop-start driving of congested city streets.