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DOST prepares for vaccine trials; unveils major research programs

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said it continues to prepare for the vaccine solidarity trials with the World Health Organization (WHO) as it unveils a list of major research and development programs to help the country battle COVID-19 and future pandemics.

"Patuloy po ang aming paghahanda para sa WHO solidarity trial for vaccines. Naghahantay na lang ng pormal na anunsyo," Rowena Guevara, DOST undersecretary for research and development, said on Tuesday's Laging Handa briefing.

"Siniguro ng WHO na handa na ang lahat ng bansa na sasali, pati bakuna, pati variants kailangan isang alang alang," she added.

The Philippines' participation in the vaccine trials earlier got the approval of the Food and Drug Administration. 

Big 21 in 2021

Guevarra said the department will continue to embark on research and development projects seen helpful in battling the virus and pandemics in the future.

This includes the GENAMPLIFY™ COVID-19 test kits and Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler For Early Detection of Diseases (FASSSTER) now used by the Department of Health (DOH) for the COVID-19 Philippines LGU Monitoring Platform.

The establishment of the Biosafety Level 2+ Laboratory for the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines (VVIP) will boost the country's potential to produce enough supply of vaccines, Guevara said.

The DOST official added that the Tuklas Lunas Program, which makes use of the Philippines' biodiversity, aims to produce more effective medicines against hypertension, gout, inflammation and diabetes.

The DOST is also currently conducting its study "Clinical Characteristics and Transmission Patterns of COVID-19 in Confirmed Cases and their Contacts in the Philippines," and the "Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 and Determination of Viral Neutralization Characteristics of Antibodies Detected in Communities in the Philippines."

Also included are the clinical trials for the effectiveness of lagundi, tawa-tawa, and the virgin coconut oil (VCO) as potential alternative treatment for COVID-19 cases.

The Safe, Swift, and Smart Passage System (S-PaSS) will, meanwhile, enable constituents to apply for travel authorization online, while the BreathSim or breathing simulator produced by the DOST to test ventilators and respirators.

Ten Niche Centers in the Regions (NICER) for research and development were established to boost research in the country's different regions.

Other facilities established included the Simulation Packaging Testing Laboratory (SPTL); Green Packaging Laboratory (GPL); Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMCen); Advanced Mechatronics, Robotics, and Industrial Automation Laboratory (AMERIAL); and S&T Fellows Program for R&D.—LDF, GMA News