Minister of Research and Technology expects UNAIR ‘Merah Putih’ Vaccine platform completion next year

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Ministry of Research and Technology / National Research and Innovation Agency Bambang Brodjonegoro during a discussion at UNAIR on Friday, December 4, 2020. (Photo: Agus Irwanto)

UNAIR NEWS – Since its first emergence in Wuhan in December 2019, scientists around the world are competing to find formulas to create drugs and vaccines for Covid-19. Through the Ministry of Research and Technology / National Research and Innovation Agency (Kemenristek / BRIN), the government continues to strive and create opportunities so the pandemic hitting the world can be immediately overcome.

Universitas Airlangga, since the virus emerged in Wuhan, has conducted research to create formulas for the Covid-19 drug and vaccine. This effort was then supported by the government with the creation of a vaccine formula called ‘Merah-Putih’ Vaccine.

Government’s attention and support continues to be given through the Ministry of Research and Technology / National Research and Innovation Agency. Most recently, on Friday, December 4, 2020, the Minister gave an inscription award to two institutes at UNAIR that makes active contribution to research related to Covid-19, PUI-PT Biological Molecular Engineering Research Center and UNAIR Vaccine Development Technology Research Center.

Before signing the inscription, the Minister held discussions with UNAIR’s ‘Merah Putih’ Vaccine team. It includes a team from Universitas Airlangga Hospital (RSUA), Dr. Soetomo Hospital, and a team from PT Biotis Pharmaceutical Indonesia as partners. The meeting was held in the Amerta Hall, Campus C Management Office UNAIR.

Collaboration Needed

During the visit, Minister of Research and Technology / Head of National Research and Innovation Agency, Bambang Brodjonegoro emphasized that the hospital involvement process that UNAIR has done in forming a vaccine research team is the right step because in the clinical trial process, besides involving supervision from the BPOM, it also involves a team from the hospital.

He emphasized that UNAIR team must make sure to change the vaccine seed to be ready for clinical trials. When the first stage takes place, the preparations for the second stage must begin. “Preparations must be carried out in parallel with previous clinical trials,” said the Minister.

According to the research timeline, even though it is still in 2021, the clinical trial stage requires feasibility testing in several places. Not only in Surabaya, but at national and international scale in various countries.

“Sometimes we feel good during laboratory stages, but it is sometimes out of control entering the clinical trial stage. For this reason, it is important to collaborate with parties who will continue the next stage, “said Bambang.

On that occasion, Bambang also emphasized that the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, expected the progress as soon as possible from ‘Merah Putih’ Vaccine. It is expected to be ready in the fourth quarter, so Indonesia can stop importing vaccines for the national vaccination.

Minister of Research and Technology and Head of National Research and Innovation Agency Bambang Brodjonegoro (left) presents a ministerial decree to UNAIR Rector Prof. Moh Nasih (right). (Photo: Agus Irwanto)

Based on the progress report submitted by Prof. Ni Nyoman Tri Puspaningsih as a researcher from the consortium for UNAIR ‘Merah Putih’ Vaccine development, there are two platforms currently being developed by UNAIR research team, the viral vector and peptide. Bambang emphasized that whatever platform UNAIR is developing, the government fully supports it. “We really support UNAIR team, whatever platforms considered the best,” he said.

Meanwhile, UNAIR Rector Prof. Moh Nasih said that as part of a smart university program, UNAIR has various strategic programs related to research. UNAIR has an agency that manages research under Business Startup and Incubation Development Board. This board is the forum for start-up business development at UNAIR.

“It is our part in responding to the needs of the era. At least it can encourage UNAIR to take part at international arena, and for the progress of the nation and state, “said UNAIR Rector. (*)

Author: Binti Q. Masruroh

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