Duterte reviews proposed virology research institute as coronavirus grips PH

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 14 2020 04:27 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte meets with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan, Davao City on August 10, 2020. Joey Dalumpines, Presidential Photo

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte is reviewing the proposal to establish a virology research institute in the Philippines, Malacañang said Friday as the coronavirus pandemic continues to grip the country.

The proposed Virology Science and Technology Institute is designed to "strengthen local vaccine development in the country," Duterte's spokesperson Harry Roque said.

During his fifth State of the Nation Address, Duterte sought the formation of a national body that would serve as the lead agency in handling outbreaks of diseases as the Philippines grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

While a coronavirus vaccine has yet to be distributed commercially in the Philippines, Roque said the government is already in talks with different countries on possible cooperations.

"We have been in touch with several institutions to collaborate on vaccine development and allow local manufacturing, if possible. Our country is part of the World Health Organization Solidarity Trials for COVID-19 treatments," Roque said.

The Philippines is set to begin human clinical trials of Russian-made coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V in October, fueling hopes of an end to the pandemic.

Manila, through the Department of Science and Technology, is also looking at the efficacy of several herbal plants such as lagundi, tawa-tawa, and virgin coconut oil as supplementary treatments for COVID-19.

"...[W]hile the Administration continues to conduct information, education, and communication campaign on the use of face masks/face shields as part of preventive efforts to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, government scientists are working diligently to find local treatment for COVID-19 patients," Roque said.