PT Bio Farma, the country's biggest vaccine producer, has been awarded a tender to import the H5N2 vaccine for poultry by the Indonesian government.
The Agricultural Ministry awarded the tender to the company, as the company's offer of 9.36 billion rupiah (US$1.01 million) was the lowest among the bidding companies. The company has planned to import the vaccine from China, which could begin within two weeks after the receipt of the letter from the government. Bio Farma president, Marzuki Abdullah, has said that the company was ready to import the vaccine from its partner Qilu, a vaccine producer in China.
The decision to import bird flu vaccine was taken as most of the 43 human deaths from bird flu have been traced to infected poultry. Even though H5N2 is milder than H5N1 that has been transmitted to humans, it has caused widespread pathogenic infection in poultry in parts of the United States in the early 1980s and in Mexico from 1992-95.
Marketing director, Sarimuddin Sulaeman, said the company needed to import 48 million more vaccines based on the tender, in addition to the 50 million doses of the H5N2 vaccine that the company had, to enable the government to conduct a mass vaccination of the poultry stock.
The move to import bird flu vaccine has met with stiff resistance from critics and some biologists who fear that the move could lead to the development of more virulent strains of the bird flu virus.
Bio Farma in association with Biken Kanonji Institute of Japan also plans to produce bird flu vaccine for humans by the end of the year.