Foreign-trained Filipino virologists want to be part of PH’s Virology Institute – DOST

Published April 15, 2021, 7:41 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Even before the country’s Virology Institute is established, a number of “foreign-trained” virologists expressed interest to be part of it, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said on Thursday, April 15. 

DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena Cristina L.  Guevara said she has been receiving emails from several  Filipino virologists “who are volunteering to come home to be part of the VIP (Virology Science & Technology Institute of the Philippines).”

“A pure inquisitiveness and curiosity and there are those who want to serve the country.This is the very good time to be here,” she said in an online media forum hosted by the Department of Health (DOH).

She said most Filipino virologists “were foreign trained” because Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees on virology have yet to be offered in the country.

“Most of them went abroad, so the capacity was never developed,” she laments. 

While noting that the country has a lot of virologists for plants and animals, the DOST official said they were “worried” not with the low number of virologists for humans. 

“We believe that we need to be able to develop our own studies, especially for viruses that are endemic to the Philippines like leptospirosis.”

Guevara cited the importance of immediately putting up the VIP, saying that it “is going to answer that specific need to prepare us for vaccine security in the future, whether it is Philippine endemic virus or it is a pandemic.”

She said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has given over P283 million for the establishment of the VIP. 

In late March, the DOST welcomed President Duterte’s intention to establish an institute that will develop and produce vaccines in the country as his legacy to the nation before his six-year term ends next year.

Read more: DOST welcomes President Duterte’s intention to establish PH vaccine institute