Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Thursday, March 11, said there are already plans for the Philippines to develop its own coronavirus vaccine to reduce the country’s reliance on vaccines from other countries.
In a virtual press briefing, Roque announced that Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato de la Peña already recommended the establishment of the Institute of Vaccinology, the first in the country.
“Tama po kayo. Dumating na ‘yung punto na ang Pilipinas ay nag-iisip na rin magkaroon ng kakayahan na magdevelop ng sarilinng bakuna (You are right. The Philippines is at a point where it needs to think about its own capability of developing its own vaccine),” he told reporters.
The Palace clarified, however, that the country is contributing to the “worldwide effort to come up with the treatment to COVID-19.”
Roque noted that the country continues to actively participate in the clinical trial for the use of lagundi (Vitex negundo or Chinese chaste tree), tawa-tawa (Euphorbia hirta or asthma-plant), and virgin coconut oil as a supplementary treatment for the coronavirus disease.
Roque said that the Philippines is also participating in the trials for the effectiveness of convalescent plasma for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Convalescent plasma is the transfusion of blood plasma from someone who recovered from COVID-19.
Countries like the United States and India have authorized the use of convalescent plasma for emergency use.
However, there is yet not enough evidence as to its effectiveness in treating COVID-19 patients.
The DOST announced last year that the research and development on medicinal plants such as lagundi and tawa-tawa is part of its initiatives to help the government fights the coronavirus pandemic.