DOST pushes for the establishment of Philippine Space Agency

admin   •   November 18, 2016   •   7659

File photo: Satellite

File photo: Satellite


Bills that would establish the Philippine Space Agency (PSA) have now been filed in Congress.

These are House Bill 3637 and Senate Bill 1211, which are expected to undergo first reading in January next year.

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said, having a space agency in the country is timely and would help a lot in times of calamity and, especially for national security.

“All of these things put together, I think, justifies the investment in space technology,” Sec. Dela Peña said.

Dr. Rogel Mari Sese of DOST’s Philippine Space Science Education Program said, having a space agency means the government can save 40% of its billing for satellite images.

Satellite can be used to estimate how much rice can be harvested per season or to locate large number of fish in the ocean.

“Based on the studies that we have done, we saw that in terms of economic benefits, every 1 peso that the Philippines will invest in a space program will get a return of about 2.50 pesos,” Dr. Sese said.

Last year, the first Philippine microsatellite named Diwata-1 was launched which cost 840 million pesos.  Meanwhile, Diwata-2 is expected to be launched in 2018.

In the same year, DOST is targetting the establishment of the Philippine Space Agency.

The government has allocated 1 billion pesos each for 2017 and 2018 and 2 billion pesos of every succeeding year.

They will also train up to 800 individuals within 10 years under the program. — Rey Pelayo | UNTV News & Rescue

Clinical trials on ivermectin to start in June – DOST

Marje Pelayo   •   May 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said that preparations are underway for the anticipated clinical trials on the use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday (May 5), the official said the trials will be spearheaded by pulmonary doctor Dr. Aileen Wang of the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) and will be implemented for eight months from June 2021 to January 2022.

He said the Department of Health (DOH) has allotted a total of P22 million for the trial of ivermectin.

It will be conducted on 1,200 volunteer adults, 18 years old and above, who are asymptomatic or non-severe COVID patients.

The team is awaiting ethics approval this month before proceeding with the trial.

“Ang ginagawa ay ethics approval para sa kanilang gagawin at recruitment ng staff na mag-a-administer ng clinical trials,” Dela Peña said.

They are currently coordinating with the Philippine Red Cross for the utilization of its facilities.

Other agents also under clinical trial are as follows:

* Randomized control clinical trial on the efficacy and safety of Tawa Tawa for adjunctive treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 patients (11 months);

* Randomized, placebo-controlled trial on the safety and efficacy of Lagundi in patients with mild COVID and without comorbidities (10 months);

* Clinical trial on the safety and efficacy of virgin coconut oil (VCO) as adjunctive therapy for hospitalized COVID patients (12 months);

* Beneficial effects of VCO among suspect and probable cases of COVID-19 (14 months, extension included);

* Melatonin as adjuvant treatment for COVID-19 in patients requiring hospitalization (9 months) ;

* Convalescent Plasma as adjunctive therapy for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. (12 months).

Dela Peña noted that the duration of clinical trials for ivermectin is almost similar in period as other agents. The progress of each study still depends on the number of patients who want to volunteer for the trial.

“Kapag dumadami ang pasyenteng magbo-volunteer, mas mapapabilis ang pagtatapos ng mga trials,” the official assured.

PH gov’t in talks with 6 potential local vaccine manufacturers – DOST

Robie de Guzman   •   April 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The government is currently in talks with six companies that are planning to establish vaccination manufacturing facilities in the Philippines, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said Thursday.

In a virtual press briefing, DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara said these companies are local drug makers that have expressed intents to open vaccine-making facilities in the country in the next few years.

“These are local pharmaceutical companies. Wala pa tayong local vaccine manufacturers in the Philippines. These local pharmaceutical companies are trying to come up with a new product, which is a vaccine,” she said.

Guevara declined to name specific companies, citing confidentiality, as negotiations are still ongoing. She, however, gave descriptions of the six firms.

One is a local distributor of a South Korean company, another has extensive facilities in Asia and is planning to partner with a foreign brand name where all the vaccines that the country needs are being manufactured.

The third company is connected to a vaccine developer in Germany, while another firm is planning to start a local vaccine manufacturing business with a fill-and-finish facility.

The fifth company is a long-term partner of a Chinese vaccine producer that is interested in local manufacturing, while the sixth firm is still looking for a possible partner but is planning to partner with a US pharmaceutical company.

Guevara also disclosed that two of these companies have been aggressive in pushing for local vaccine production.

“If they pursue their plans, based on what they have told us, parang kakayanin nilang mag-produce ng vaccine by late 2022,” she said.

Guevara said these manufacturing facilities will not just produce COVID-19 vaccines but also other jabs against rubella, polio, and other vaccine-preventable diseases, for about 40 million doses per year.

The national government has been eyeing to establish the country’s own vaccine institute to locally produce vaccines and sustain the needs for immunization programs.

The DOST said the country is also in talks with 25 international manufacturers, including the Serum Institute of India which has previously offered assistance for the Philippines to locally manufacture vaccines. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

PH vaccine experts mull mixing COVID-19 vaccine brands

Robie de Guzman   •   April 13, 2021


MANILA, Philippines – A panel of vaccine experts in the Philippines are studying the possibility of mixing various brands of COVID-19 vaccines amid issues in global vaccine supply, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said Tuesday.

Dr. Nina Gloriani, head of the DOST Vaccine Experts Panel (VEP), said they are considering the matter of mixing vaccine brands due to the current scarcity of vaccine supply in the Philippines.

“That is a very practical or realistic scenario that we may be looking at with these so many vaccines that we have now,” she said during a Department of Health (DOH) press briefing.

“Di ba kulang ang ating mga COVID-19 supplies? Sometimes we have to be realistic, ano yung next na pwedeng ibigay? Hindi puwedeng i-delay too long yung second dose,” she added.

Gloriani said these COVID-19 vaccines are not comparable since they are made using different technologies but she noted that some vaccines make use of the same platforms.

“There are some of them na medyo pareho ang platform like Pfizer is messenger RNA, Moderna is messenger RNA,” she said.

“For the adeno(virusDNA approach), iyong mga vector-based vaccines so iyon ang medyo marami, sila Astrazeneca… Dadating na rin ang Gamaleya (Institute) Sputnik V,” she added, referring to the vaccine developed by a Russian company.

Gloriani said a recommendation on the matter will be released soon but she stressed that guidelines for such move should be in place.

The DOH earlier said that there is still no sufficient evidence supporting the benefits of mixing COVID-19 vaccine brands.

The agency also said that it will maintain its position that whatever brand used in the first dose should also be the same brand for the second dose.


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