The government is working on finding a local treatment for patients with the coronavirus illness apart from participating in global action to develop a vaccine, Malacañang said Friday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government’s research and development efforts include the clinical trials for lagundi, tawa-tawa, virgin coconut oil, among others, as potential COVID treatment.
The proposed establishment of a virology institute in the country is also under review by President Duterte as part of the government’s long-term plan to address a major disease outbreak, Roque added.
“The Palace views that while the Administration continues to conduct information, education, and communication campaign on the use of face masks/face shields as part of preventive efforts to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, government scientists are working diligently to find local treatment for COVID-19 patients,” he said.
“The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) recently approved the clinical trial for lagundi and the clinical trial for tawa-tawa as supplement COVID-19 treatments. These trials are in addition to the melatonin, convalescent plasma, and virgin coconut oil trials,” he added.
He said the country has also joined the global efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
“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,” he said.
The country also recently agreed to work with Russia on the clinical trials, production and supply of its potential vaccine for the coronavirus. The clinical studies are expected to begin this October.
According to Roque, the government has also included long-term plans in the research and development efforts in fighting any outbreak of diseases in the country.
“President Rodrigo Roa 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,” he said.
Roque made the latest pronouncement after drawing flak on social media for supposedly dwelling on government’s efforts on the provision of protective gear instead of moving forward on finding the potential COVID treatment.
Some netizens have poked fun at Roque for showing off the locally produced face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) sets during his televised briefing on Thursday. One of the memes that circulated online read: “Ang Russia nasa phase 3 na ng vaccine. Indonesia nasa phase 1 na rin. Ang Pilipinas nasa phase shield pa rin.”
In Thursday’s press briefing, Roque congratulated the local companies that have started to produce the country’s own face masks and PPE sets. He showed off samples of the products “with pride and pleasure” during the press conference aired on state television.