The drug is a result of research performed by a collaboration between the University Of Airlangga, the Indonesia Armed Forces (TNI) and the National Intelligence Agency (BIN).
Not the slightest bit of doubt appeared on the face of Airlangga University (Unair) Rector Mohammad Nasih when delivering the news at the Indonesian Army Headquarters (Mabesad) on Saturday (15/8).
It has taken almost half a year for his group to dare to announce their much-awaited finding: the Covid-19 drug. Since March, Airlangga Univesity has been researching the drug. In collaboration with the Indonesian Army and the State Intelligence Agency (BIN). The results, among testing five drug combinations, three have been completed through clinical trials. In fact, they dare to claim that they have found the world’s first Covid-19 drug.
Nasih explained that the researchers involved were certainly not making conclusions carelessly. Three drug combinations were tested for a full month. 754 people with confirmed cases of Covid-19 were involved in the clinical trial. This exceeds 696, the official number declared by the government and Food and Drug Supervisory Agency (BPOM) for minimum number of clinical trial patients.
All of the patients involved in the clinical trial were Indonesian Army soldiers who were studying at the Officer Candidate School (Secapa) in Bandung, West Java. Last month, more than a thousand Secapa students tested positive for Covid-19, officially making Secapa a new cluster of Covid-19 transmission in the Flower City. The total number of confirmed cases reached 1,308 people.
Nasih also expressed appreciation for the Indonesian Army and National Intelligence Agency for providing access to Airlangga University to carry out clinical trials on hundreds of patients in Secapa. “This will be the first Covid-19 drug in the world” said the professor of the Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB) Unair, greeted by boisterous applause.
The three drug combinations that Airlangga University clinically tested consisted of lopinavir/ ritonavir and azithromycin, lopinavir/ ritonavir and doxycycline, as well as hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. According to Nasih, the drugs have been used individually by researchers in various countries. “After we combined them, the healing power increased very sharply and well” he explained.
The effectiveness of the Covid-19 drug he said, had reached a 98 percent success rate. This figure made him even more convinced that the cooperation between Airlangga University, the Indonesian Army and National Intelligence Agency was not in vain. “There is no gap that can prevent this (drug) from continuing to the next process” he said. The process that Nasih refers to is mass production.
The results of clinical trials conducted show that the Covid-19 drug is ready for use in patients of all levels of severity infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, there is one note: the Covid-19 drug is not suitable for patients who have been treated using a ventilator or breathing apparatus.
To begin mass production, Airlangga University, the Indonesian Army and the National Intelligence Agency are awaiting for the production and distribution permit from the Food & Drug Supervisory Agency.
Army Chief of Staff (KSAD) General Andika Perkasa also hopes that the efforts of Unair, the Army and National Intelligence Agency will receive approval so that mass production of the drug can be carried out.
The deputy chairman of the Committee for Covid-19 and National Economic Recovery revealed that State Owned Enterprises (BUMN) Minister Erick Thohir was aware of the existence of the Covid-19 drug that was announced yesterday. “And he supports the production process” he said.
The event was also attended by the leadership of State owned pharmaceutical giant PT Kimia Farma. In addition, pharmaceutical bodies belonging to the Indonesian Army and National Police (Polri) are confirmed to be involved.
Andika said that his team is open to welcome other parties who want to help produce the drug, including private companies. He is confident that the production permit and distribution permits will be approved soon. His team will meet the chairman of the Food and Drug Supervisory Agency (BPOM) on Wednesday (19/8) to discuss further. According to Andika, BPOM is participating in the clinical trial phase in Secapa.
Positive evidence is the success of the Indonesian Army in curing over one thousand Covid-19 patients in approximately a month. Among the 1,308 Covid patients in the Secapa cluster, 754 patients were declared cured yesterday.
Purwanti, head of the clinical trial team who is also a representative doctor from Airlangga University, said that so far the drug has been effective in curing Covid-19 patients with doses administered twice a day. Although it is only clinically tested on patients aged 18 years and over, she believes with appropriate doses of the drug, it could be used by patients aged 18 years and under. For that, she is confident that the drug is just waiting for the production and distribution permits.
Purwanti ensured that the side effects of these drugs are not dangerous for the patient. Concerns about side effects on organs such as the patient’s heart, kidneys and liver were examined and the results showed no problems. “So, it is relatively safe to use” she added.