DOST’s appeal to Senate: Adopt House bill seeking creation of PH virology institute, include ‘vaccine’ in measure’s title

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has appealed to the Senate to adopt the House version of a measure seeking the creation of the Virology Institute of the Philippines (VIP), and include word “vaccine” in the bill’s title to stress the importance of the country’s development of its own jabs.

(DOST Facebook page)

DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Peña made the appeal during the Cabinet report recently initiated by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

“We would like to request the Senate to adopt the version already approved by the House but institute a little modification in the name of the Institute because the President wants to emphasize the importance of vaccine development so we would like to retitle the Institute as the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines,” he said.

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The House of Representatives unanimously passed on third and final reading House Bill No. 9559 or the proposed VIP Act on July 28, two days after President Duterte asked Congress to enact a law creating the Institute.

“Now, why do we want to include vaccines? Because there are illnesses or diseases not necessarily caused by virus alone. Whatever the origin of the disease, whether it is virus or not, we will still need the vaccines kaya gusto natin idagdag ang word na “vaccine” sa pangalan (that’s why we want to include the word “vaccine” in the title).”

De la Peña noted that even before the legislation was passed, they initiated the start of eight projects led by local research teams that may form the research core of the VIP.

“Once the VIP has been legislated, we shall immediately work on the crafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the VIP and finalize the partnerships with international institutions that will help us build the capacity of the VIP through visiting scientists, exchange fellowships and collaborative research,” he sad.

He said the VIP can do the basic researches for exploring possible vaccine candidates up to the animal and pre-clinical trials which can further be developed by local vaccine developers.

These basic researchers will ensure that local vaccine manufacture will take priority in terms of vaccine development and manufacturing, he added.

“The VIP also aims to build human resource capability, infrastructure, and local and internal networks necessary for the country’s self-reliance in vaccine development,” de la Peña said.

The DOST said it is eyeing to break ground for the state-of-the-art VIP by the fourth quarter of 2021.