Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi has said that Indonesia is ready to become a hub for the production of COVID-19 vaccines in the Asia-Pacific region.
The statement was made by Retno during a meeting of the Gavi Vaccine Alliance Council with the co-chairs of the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) Engagement Group, where Indonesia raised the issue of vaccine supply constraints.
“Vaccine producers must be able to increase their production capacity and it is time for developing countries to be included in the global vaccine supply chain,” she asserted.
Increasing the production and supply of vaccines is considered one of the important efforts to meet the vaccination target of 70 percent of the world’s population by mid-2022. To achieve this target, the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that the world needs at least 11 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“When we talked about the vaccine supply chain, I said that the establishment of an mRNA vaccine manufacturing centre that has been carried out in South Africa should be replicated in other regions to accelerate the increase in vaccine production,” she said.
In addition to increasing production, Indonesia is also continuing to push for a vaccine dose-sharing mechanism from countries that have excess vaccines to low- and middle-income countries.
Retno emphasised the importance of countries that have excess vaccine doses to share their doses more transparently, convey delivery times, and avoid sharing vaccine doses that have expired.
Another issue that Indonesia highlighted in the interactive meeting between the Gavi Council and the AMC EG chairman was vaccine discrimination.
Retno expressed concerns about the trend of vaccine discrimination, following the entry ban imposed by several countries on cross-border travellers even though they had been vaccinated with a type that received an emergency use permit from the WHO.
There are also countries that allow foreign nationals to enter their territory, as long as they have received a booster vaccine that is recognised by their authority.
“During the meeting, I asked WHO, Gavi, and the COVAX facility to make a joint effort to prevent this vaccine discrimination from occurring. The Gavi Council is also very worried about this discrimination and will try to deal with it together with WHO,” said Retno.
The meeting of the Gavi Council and the chairmen of COVAX AMC EG was held virtually to provide input to the Gavi Council in formulating further strategies to better address the challenges of COVAX member countries.