In September 2023 CEPI and Bio Farmer announced the agreement of a 10-year partnership to “boost rapid manufacturing of outbreak vaccines” at Indonesia’s “leading” vaccine manufacturer. This partnership is intended to bring mRNA and viral vector rapid response vaccine manufacturing technologies to Indonesia and the ASEAN region. Furthermore, manufacturing capacity will be reserved to supply Global South countries during future outbreaks and pandemics as a lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The importance of global manufacturing
CEPI refers to a study in Nature from 2022 that suggests that if COVID-19 vaccines had been better shared, 295.8 million infections and 1.3 million deaths might have been averted.
“One of the central reasons behind the tragic vaccine inequity which characterised the response to COVID-19 was the concentration of global vaccine manufacturing capacity in a small number of high income and/or high population countries.”
This concentration left “much of the Global South” without timely access to the life-saving vaccines developed in response to the pandemic. CEPI’s goal of enabling equitable access highlights the importance of “expanding and diversifying the global footprint” of vaccine manufacturing. With a network of vaccine manufacturers in Global South countries, particularly in areas at high risk of disease outbreaks, CEPI hopes to strengthen our preparedness and responses to health threats.
Welcoming Bio Farma
Bio Farma joins a CEPI-backed network of vaccine manufacturers aiming to substantially increase the world’s capacity and capability to produce vaccines against disease threats in as little as 100 days (the 100 Days Mission). Bio Farma has a “broad portfolio” of vaccines, including some WHO prequalified vaccines.
CEPI will provide funding of up to $15 million to diversify Bio Farma’s manufacturing capability and support the establishment of mRNA and viral vector rapid response technologies at Bio Farma’s facilities. This will accelerate the team’s ability to manufacture vaccines against viral threats. The funding complements funding from the Indonesian Government and Bio Farma’s participation in the mRNA technology transfer programme.
The partnership will allow Bio Farma to establish a bioprocess laboratory to develop and test new mRNA and viral vector technologies. It will also support Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)-standard facilities to produce batches of vaccines for clinical trials up to Phase II and GMP-standard capacity for the manufacture of larger quantities of vaccine for use in Phase III trials and commercial supply.
Once established, these facilities will supply mRNA and viral vector vaccines against a range of future outbreak threats within 100 days. Notably, the partnership reserves a proportion of overall manufacturing capacity for supply to countries in the Global South in the case of an outbreak, as directed by CEPI.
Dr Richard Hatchett, CEPI’s CEO, commented that the world “needs to be able to respond rapidly, and equitably” to future threats “before they mushroom into pandemics”.
“Our collaboration with Bio Farma will contribute to this goal by expanding the company’s world-class manufacturing facilities to include the very latest mRNA and viral vector technologies which will be capable of producing outbreak vaccines in as little as 100 days.”
Dr Hatchett emphasised that the mRNA manufacturing capacity will help to “enable swift and equitable access to outbreak vaccines for countries in the ASEAN region”. Shadiq Akasya, President Director of Bio Farma, looks forward to collaboration with CEPI, which will “undoubtedly enable manufacturers” to “acquire capability in producing outbreak vaccines”.
“This momentous collaboration is justification of Bio Farma’s commitment to global health and Indonesia’s contribution in achieving vaccine equity during outbreaks particularly in the ASEAN region.”
Bio Farma is “eager” to “explore mutually beneficial opportunities” to improve the quality of life. The Republic of Indonesia’s Minister of Health, Budi G. Sadikin, is pleased to “recognise the significance of this collaboration”.
“By partnering with CEPI, Indonesia will enhance its contribution to vaccine security and self-reliance, particularly within ASEAN and the Global South.”
Lucia Rizka Andalucia, Director of Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices at the Ministry of Health for the Republic of Indonesia, is hopeful that Bio Farma will be able to “strengthen its research and manufacturing capabilities”.
“Bio Farma has long been a key player in combatting communicable diseases by supplying vaccines for both domestic and global needs.”