April 21, 2024

The country will be able to develop vaccines once the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP) is established, Department of Science and Technology Sec. Fortunato de la Peña said.
In a recorded meeting earlier this week, President Rodrigo Duterte urged Filipino scientists to work double-time to develop Covid-19 vaccines so the country would no longer have to rely on supplies from abroad.
“When (the country) already has the VIP, (scientists) could develop vaccines, including a Covid-19 vaccine, therapeutics, and biomedical devices,” de la Peña said.
He earlier said the country does not have the capability to develop a vaccine due to lack of facilities. He proposed the establishment of the VIP, which he said would be a premier research institute in virology and diseases in humans, animals, and plants.
“We need a facility that has a biosafety level 3 and 4 to develop a vaccine. At present, the country does not have such kind of facility. We also need to have a research and development agenda and R&D funding for vaccine development,” he said.
Asked to describe these biosafety levels, University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health Executive Director Eva Maria de la Paz said biosafety level 3 is appropriate for work involving microbes that can cause serious and potentially lethal disease via inhalation.
The facility that houses a biosafety level 3 laboratory must have certain features to ensure appropriate containment. “All laboratory personnel are provided medical surveillance and offered relevant immunizations to reduce the risk of accidental or unnoticed infection,” de la Paz added.
Biosafety level 4, on the other hand, is the highest level of biosafety precautions. “This level is appropriate for work with agents that could easily be aerosol-transmitted within the laboratory, and cause severe to fatal disease in humans for which there are no available vaccines or treatments,” de la Paz said.
Biosafety level 4 laboratories are used for diagnostic work and research on easily transmitted pathogens. These laboratories must be separated from areas with unrestricted traffic.
De la Peña said the Department of Public Works and Highways is currently working on the design of the VIP. The plan is to start the building construction next year and finish it by 2023, he said.
De la Peña said they are also working with the Department of Trade and Industry to produce Covid-19 vaccines as soon as possible. – PNA