MANILA – Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar on Saturday expressed his support for the creation of a Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP).
The said institute will upgrade the country’s capacity to develop its own vaccines, likewise be a premier research institute in virology and diseases in humans, animals, and plants.
“Dalawang sakit ang hinaharap natin. Una ay ang COVID-19 , na nakahahawa sa ating mga tao. At pangalawa ay ang ASF, na ang tinatamaan ay mga hayop – at ang apektado ay ang hog industry natin. Laban sa dalawang virus na ito, bukod sa pag-iingat upang di mahawaan, ang solusyon ay nasa bakuna [We are battling against two diseases. One is the COVID-19 that is contagious among people. And the second is the ASF, which targets animals – and this is directly affecting our hog industry. Aside from ensuring safety against the spread of these viruses vaccine is the solution],” Secretary Andanar said.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, in his last State of the Nation Address, endorsed the passage of a law creating the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines.
“Masaya po tayo at agad inaksyunan na ng Kongreso ang planong Virology and Vaccination Institute of the Philippines. Sana nga ay agaran nang maisabatas ito upang masimulan na rin ang kanilang trabaho [We are happy that there was a quick action from Congress on the plan to create a Virology and Vaccination Institute of the Philippines. We are looking forward to its passage so that we can work on it right away],” Secretary Andanar said.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar sat as a guest during the Cabinet Report, where he provided updates on their initiative to find a vaccine against the outbreak of the African Swine Fever in the country.
Secretary Dar said that they sought the help of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to connect with private pharmaceutical companies in the said endeavor. The study is currently at its phase 1 trial.
“This is a good start because after 100 years no one from advanced countries has developed a vaccine for ASF,” he said.
“We are excited because just like the COVID-19, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” he added.
The agency is targeting to vaccinate the country’s hog inventory of about 9.7 million for free, should the government agree to shoulder the expenses for the purchase and the vaccination process in the future.
The decision of whether to push for the use of the vaccine is yet to be given by the end of 2021, according to Secretary Dar. For now, the agency will continue to implement its biosecurity measures and employ its Task Force Bantay ASF.