By Genalyn Kabiling
Any Filipino who will discover a vaccine that will stop and cure the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will receive a P10 million reward from President Duterte, Malacanang announced on Tuesday.
The President has offered the incentive to promote the country’s vaccine research and development as the government battles the spread of COVID-19 that has infected more than 6,000 in the country.
“Dahil public enemy number one ang COVID-19 hindi lang dito sa Pilipinas kung hindi sa buong mundo, inanunsyo po ng Pangulo na siya ay magbibigay ng pabuya na hanggang P10 milyon sa kahit sinong Pilipino na makakadiskubre ng vaccine laban sa COVID-19 (Because COVID-19 is the public enemy not only in the Philippines but in the entire world, the President announced that he will give a reward of up to P10 million to any Filipino who will discover a vaccine in the fight against COVID-19),” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said during a Palace press briefing on Tuesday.
The President also promised to give a “substantial grant” to the University of the Philippines and UP-Philippine General Hospital for the development of a vaccine against the coronavirus, according to Roque.
Amid the escalating infections and death toll from the coronavirus, the global race is on to find and produce a COVID-19 vaccine. Medical studies on potential treatment to the coronavirus have reportedly been escalated in recent weeks.
In a recent virtual regional summit, President Duterte called for stronger collaboration on the research and development of a vaccine for the coronavirus. He said the Philippines is ready to participate in the clinical trials and medical studies of potential vaccines and medicines such as Avigan.
The latest incentive for anti-viral treatment research was announced as the President continued to mull over options on whether to extend or modify the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon after April 30.
Roque said the President met with top government officials and health experts on Monday to get their inputs on the coronavirus response but has not yet decided on the post-April 30 scenario.
He said the President’s options included to “maintain/extend” the ECQ or implement a “modified quarantine” in areas with coronavirus cases. He insisted that there was no mention of total lockdown during the President’s meeting that lasted for five hours.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles had earlier said that the President needed more time to make a decision on the next government action plan beyond April 30. Duterte tossed back the “several options” presented by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Cases (IATF) for further study and refinement.
The new coronavirus disease, which first broke out in China late last year, has infected more than two million people across the world, and left more than 160,000 dead. The Philippines has recorded 6,459 cases of coronavirus, including 428 fatalities as of April 20.