Top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has called on the Philippines and other countries to invest more on scientific research and development to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and other future health threats.
Fauci emphasized that the government’s support on scientific institutions is a necessary element for “economic vitality and growth.”
“I want to emphasize the importance of sustained local support for scientists and scientific institutions in the Philippines and elsewhere,” said Fauci in his keynote message during the 43rd Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) of the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) on Tuesday, July 13.
“As we have seen with COVID-19, science particularly, biomedical research is fundamentally important to pandemic preparedness and effective outbreak response that save lives and stabilizes societies,” he added.
Fauci underscored that the importance of scientific research and development is evident with the development of vaccines against the virus that causes COVID-19.
“Among the most important lessons we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is that sustained biomedical research is essential to global well-being as manifested by the successful development of effective vaccines against SARS-CoV-2,” he said.
“We also have seen that an effective response in emerging infectious diseases requires international scientific cooperation,” he added.
Filipino scientists recognized
The American infectious disease expert also recognized the talents of Filipino scientists.
Fauci commended the collaborative research done over the years between the Philippines and the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), focusing on human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) and tuberculosis co-infections.
“Talented Filipino scientists from your outstanding institutions have participated in multiple AIDS clinical research networks that have advanced the global understanding of HIV prevention, treatment, and care,” said Fauci.
“Filipino scientists have helped lead the way in the studies of tuberculosis—particularly multi-drug resistance TB. The work in the Regional Prospective Observational Research on Tuberculosis network has been especially important and promising,” he added.
Fauci also lauded the key role of Philippines institutions in infectious diseases research in dengue, malaria and other infectious pathogens.
“Through decades of collaboration, we have learned from each other and shared a tradition of excellence in science and technology particularly in biomedical research,” he said.
“I’m confident that our future collaborations will continue to contribute to scientific discovery through clinical research and the training of new talented scientists,” he added.
He expressed hope that the cooperation between the Philippines and US in scientific research and development will “continue and thrive in the coming years.”
Fauci also hopes that the Philippine government will continue to provide the necessary support to the Department of Science and Technology.
“Hopefully, this institution and others will continue to receive Philippine government support so that they will remain competitive for both funding and talent,” he said.
“Given its track record, I also can foresee great value in the Philippines expanding its scientific leadership role in the Asia Pacific region,” he added.
Meanwhile, Philippine Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III also emphasized the importance of science.
“We must preserve our curiosity. Let the day never come when we are satisfied with the science and technology that we currently have. Because our world will only grow more complex —-and the only proper response to this is the relentless advancement of science and medicine,” he said.