President Jokowi calls on Indonesian scientists to invent COVID-19 vaccine

President Joko Widodo during a press statement in Jakarta on March 15. Screengrab: Presidential Secretariat
President Joko Widodo during a press statement in Jakarta on March 15. Screengrab: Presidential Secretariat

President Joko Widodo today urged Indonesia’s top scientific minds to invent and produce a vaccine for COVID-19, as the country’s caseload continues to rise in recent weeks.

Speaking to mark the launch of the Research Technology Ministry’s Product Research and COVID-19 Management department today, the president said he believes Indonesia does not have to rely on other nations to beat the pandemic.

“So we must be able to create a COVID-19 vaccine ourselves,” Jokowi said at the Presidential Palace.

“I’m very optimistic that we can be independent for things we never thought capable of producing and relied on imports before. We can produce them ourselves and more. I am also happy that our researchers are continuing to work to find drugs and treatments for COVID-19.”

The president did not offer any clues as to how far Indonesian scientists have progressed in finding a cure for COVID-19.

While any world leader is entitled to hope that their nation can solve the global health crisis, it must be noted that some of Jokowi’s rallying cries regarding COVID-19 seem to have been largely based on optimism that exceeds the country’s capabilities.

One notable example is Jokowi’s target that Indonesia must carry out 10,000 PCR tests per day by this month. The president was forced to concede that, due to logistical, technological, and human resource limitations, the target has been unattainable

In recent weeks, Indonesia has only been able to test around 3,000-5,000 people daily.

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