NASA introduces PH satellite Maya-2; to launch in 2021

Marje Pelayo   •   December 14, 2020   •   951

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) STAMINA4Space Program announced on Monday (December 14) that the 4th Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite or BIRDS-4 project is now on the website of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

According to NASA, the BIRDS-4 satellites are deployed in the fourth round of a project launched by researchers or students from Japan, the Philippines, and Paraguay.

The Philippines’ Maya-2, a cube satellite (CubeSat) that was developed by Filipino students in Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan, is part of the BIRDS-4 project.

The satellite, one of the three 1U CubeSats, will be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2021, along with the other two that were developed by Japan and Paraguay.

Its predecessor Maya-1, successfully completed its mission and flew back to Earth’s atmosphere on November 23, after staying in orbit for about 2 years and 4 months.

Maya-2 is the product of the Philippines’ first inter-university satellite project and it will incorporate more advanced technology demonstration missions than Maya-1.

On its website, NASA said that the mission of the BIRDS-4 satellites is to test commercial off-the-shelf components, as well as new technologies such as Perovskite solar cell and antenna using the satellite structure to prove their worthiness in space.

“BIRDS-4 deploys during the JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer-16 (J-SSOD-16) micro-satellite deployment mission, is handled by the Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System (JEMRMS), and launches to the International Space Station aboard the NG-15 Cygnus Cargo Vehicle,” NASA added. MNP / Raymund David

Sinovac’s 50% efficacy meets WHO minimum standards — DOST

Marje Pelayo   •   December 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The national government assures that experts are carefully studying the available efficacy and safety data of every developed vaccine specifically against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from any manufacturer.

This was the response from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Philippine Council for Health Research and Development regarding reports that the COVID-19 vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech is only 50% effective based on the late-stage trial result done by the Butantan Institute in Brazil.

This is way below the efficacy rate of the vaccines developed in the United States and the United Kingdom.

“Hindi pa natin nakikita ang data. It has to be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration kahit na lumalabas sa press, ganito ang kanilang efficacy,” explained DOST -PCHRD Executive Director Jaime Montoya.

“We have to verify those data. So until such time na na-review natin ang data, we cannot make any conclusions,” he said.

Montoya stressed, however, that based on the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO), 50% efficacy is still acceptable in terms of minimum standards of a vaccine.

He added that should vaccine developers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna submit their application for use in the Philippines, it is likely that they would be the first to get emergency use authorization from the government.

This is if the negotiation on vaccine procurement would be finalized soon with the vaccine suppliers.

“Dalawa pa lang po ang naii-issuehan ng EUA ng isang stringent regulatory authority. Meaning the US, iyan ang Pfizer-BioNTech at Moderna. So if they’re going to pursue their application here in the Philippines, for the EUA also in the Philippines, then malamang sila ang mauuna na magiging available,” Montoya said.

As of this writing, DOST-PCHRD said there is no report yet that the new strain of COVID-19 affecting the UK has entered the country.

Currently, they are conducting random surveillance among COVID-19 positive tests to detect any trace of the new strain in the Philippines.

“Tayo po ay mino-monitor natin randomly ang mga viruses na nakikita natin sa Pilipinas with SARS-COV-2 through the Philippine Genome Center,” he concluded. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Virgin coconut oil shows potential vs. COVID-19 based on DOST-funded study

Marje Pelayo   •   October 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A research study conducted in Singapore and funded by the Department of Science and Technology, has revealed the potential of virgin coconut oil or VCO, in treating COVID-19.

The research showed that the COVID-19 virus count is reduced by 60 to 90 percent when subjected to invitro clinical trial of derivatives of virgin coconut oil. It also helps with the protection of cells and generation of antibodies.

Number one, nakakababa ng virus count ang pagpapa-react with the derivatives of coconut oil. Number two, meron siyang parang ability to preserve the cell that is being attacked by the virus. And number three, it has the ability also to regulate the generation of antibodies,” DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña explained.

The official said they are still waiting for the statistical analysis of the clinical trial of VCO conducted on 56 symptomatic volunteers at a hospital in Laguna.

Dela Peña added that all the participants have been sent home already.

“The fact na nakauwi silang lahat, bumuti na. Magandang indication. Of course hindi natin alam pa kung iyong mga bumuti ay iyon bang nakatanggap ng VCO,” he said. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

DOST names 13 hospitals involved in WHO COVID-19 vaccine solidarity trials

Robie de Guzman   •   September 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on Tuesday announced that 13 hospitals will be involved in the solidarity trials of the World Health Organization (WHO) for potential novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines in the country.

In a statement, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID) has adopted the agency’s recommendation for zoning on the solidarity trials for the vaccine candidates against COVID-19 which will be conducted this year.

Dela Peña said the vaccine candidates will be tested in eight trial zones, involving a total of 13 hospitals.

He identified these facilities as the Philippine General Hospital, Manila Doctors Hospital, San Lazaro Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, St. Luke’s Medical Center-Quezon City, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Makati Medical Center, The Medical City, and St. Luke’s Medical Center-BGC, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Chong Hua Hospital in Cebu City, De La Salle Health Sciences Institute in Cavite, and Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City.

The WHO solidarity trials will start this October and expected to be completed by the second quarter of the following year.

The DOST chief also confirmed that the Philippines is in agreement with five COVID- 19 vaccine developers that will enable clinical trial data sharing.

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