The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has vowed to exhaust all means to ensure a ‘vaccine self-reliant’ Philippines.
Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara, who chairs the Task Group on Vaccine Evaluation and Selection (TG-VES), noted that the DOST has initiated two long-term action plans to achieve vaccine self-sufficiency.
“One is the establishment of a Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VSTIP) that is currently a pending bill in the legislature, together with the reinstitution of the DOST Pharma Center,” she said in her remarks during the 39th founding anniversary celebration of the DOST’s Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) on Wednesday, March 17.
The House Committees on Health and Science and Technology approved a substitute bill last March 9, creating the the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines, which shall be an attached agency of the DOST. The institute, under the bill, has six divisions: Virus Research; Diagnostics and Therapeutics Research; Vaccines Research; Technical Services and Training; Policy, Planning and Linkages; and Finance and Administration.
“While we are making encouraging progress in our efforts of creating a healthier communities especially at a time of a global pandemic, our work is far from over. DOST through the support of our various partners and collaborators will continue our important work not only until this virus has been eliminated but will also contribute in the efforts to ensure a ‘vaccine self-reliant’ Philippines in the near future and strengthen our public health sector through science, technology, and innovation,” Guevara said.
She said the DOST, through its chairmanship to the Sub-Technical Working Group on Vaccine Development, has been working for several months to ensure the country’s access to a successful COVID-19 vaccine.
“As early as March 2020, DOST has started to coordinate with some of its international partners to initiate collaborative talks on vaccine development.,” the DOST official noted.
She said for independent clinical trials, discussions “are ongoing” with 25 biotech and pharmaceutical companies from different countries.
“To realize our identified medium-term plan, the Sub-TWG on Vaccine Development is coordinating with members of the local pharmaceutical industry that expressed interest to go into vaccine manufacturing particularly on a fill-and-finish vaccine manufacturing arrangements,” Guevara added.