The president's letter containing the mandate was symbolically received by Unair Rector Professor Mohammad Nasih from Head of the COVID-19 Research and Innovation Consortium Professor Ali Ghufron Mukti through a virtual event on Friday.
Professor Mohammad Nasih expressed gratitude to the government for its mandate while also echoing his university's research team members unwavering commitment to partaking in the efforts to mitigate the impacts of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) along with their colleagues from the Supuluh Nopember Institute of Technology (ITS).
The government-sponsored research and innovation projects will prioritize four areas: prevention, filtering and diagnosis; medical equipment and supporting devices; medicines and therapies; and social humanities.
"Unair remains committed to participating in the efforts to handle the COVID-19 pandemic, right from the upstream to downstream; starting from mitigation to discovery of the COVID-19 vaccine," he affirmed.
Given that overseas institutions are often behind vaccine development and production, Unair will leave no stone unturned in the endeavors to develop a COVID-19 vaccine for Indonesians by using local samples. However, this project will be conducted through collaboration with overseas researchers.
In connection with this program, the Indonesian Research and Technology Ministry revealed it had accrued funds reaching almost Rp200 billion for financing research on developing a vaccine, medicines, and other innovative products to support Indonesia's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We believe that the funds we have collected are sufficient to finance research and innovation efforts up to the prototype stage," Research and Technology Minister Bambang P. S. Brodjonegoro noted in a statement circulated on YouTube on May 27.
The funds have been sourced from LPDP's Endowment Fund for Research, universities, and the Research and Technology Ministry's agencies, including the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), and Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT).
The minister explained that the funds will not be utilized merely to finance Indonesian researchers' efforts to produce prototypes of products direly needed by the country to fight coronavirus, including vaccines, drugs, and health equipment.
Furthermore, the ministry allotted early-stage funding of Rp5 billion to support research for COVID-19 vaccine development in the country.
"Of course, we are going to channel more funds as and when required," he added.