Malacañang said Friday President Rodrigo Duterte is reviewing the proposal on setting up a virology institute in the Philippines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“President Duterte is now reviewing the recommendation to establish a Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines that will serve as a premiere research institute in virology and diseases to strengthen local vaccine development in the country,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) earlier pushed for establishing a virology institute at the New Clark City in Tarlac.
According to Lacson, Senate Bill No. 1543 seeks to establish the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP) under DOST.
“The country needs diagnostics to detect and limit the spread of the existing viruses; vaccines to provide long-term protection; treatments to save lives in the shorter term, and social science to understand their behavioral and societal implications,” he said.
The VIP would operate a virus gene bank, a virus genome laboratory, and a virus reference laboratory. It is proposed to be built at a five-hectare lot within the New Clark Economic Zone in Tarlac.
Lacson said the virology institute should create international cooperations and maintain a database network of viral infections.
Duterte studying proposal for establishing virology institute in Philippines
A P2 billion research fund shall be earmarked for the VIP, Lacson added.
Roque added the DOST recently approved the clinical trials for lagundi and tawa-tawa as a supplement for treating COVID-19 patients. These are in addition to the melatonin, convalescent plasma, and virgin coconut oil clinical trials.
The Philippines, through the DOST, participated in the global research towards the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, Roque added.
“We have been in touch with several institutions to collaborate on vaccine development and allow local manufacturing, if possible. Our country is part of the World Health Organization Solidarity Trials for COVID-19 treatments,” Roque said.
The Philippines joined in the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility that would ensure participating countries would have equal access to the coronavirus vaccines.
The World Health Organization, meanwhile, said the COVID-19 vaccine would not be available until early 2021.