US awards P12 million in grants to 5 Philippine universities for research, innovation

Robie de Guzman   •   April 29, 2021   •   254

MANILA, Philippines – The United States government has awarded nearly P12 million to five Philippine universities for their research and innovation during the pandemic, the US Embassy in Manila said.

In a statement Wednesday, the embassy said that the grant was awarded through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) under the “Widening Applications of Research within the Pandemic” or WARP project.

The project aims to help Philippine universities build on previous USAID-funded research to address new challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The WARP grants will also create partnerships among universities, industries, and local governments.

The following schools were selected for their research proposals:

  • The University of San Carlos in the Visayas region for their research on developing novel antiseptic patches for wound dressing and skin healing.
  • A team from the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University for their research on the properties of high-value extracts from ube and corn for possible use in ready-to-eat foods, and as a replacement for commercial food coloring.
  • The University of the Philippines-Visayas for their research helping to establish a tuna jerky product enterprise that can improve economic opportunities for local fishermen.
  • The Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology for their research converting waste from coconut oil processing into an economically viable substitute to imported chemicals used in insulating foam production.
  • A team from the Mariano Marcos State University for their research expanding village-scale ethanol production in the Ilocos regions to sustainably supply much-needed disinfectants for public health use.

During the WARP grant virtual launch on April 27, USAID Mission Director Lawrence Hardy II said the grants were part of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the U.S.-Philippines diplomatic relations.

“These grants are another milestone in this longstanding partnership as we work together to make higher education and innovation a driver of inclusive growth in the Philippines,” he said.

‘Maskless holiday’ sa Disyembre, target ng pamahalaan — Malakanyang

Robie de Guzman   •   June 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Tiwala ang Malakanyang na maaabot ng Pilipinas ang minimithing ‘maskless holiday’ ngayong Disyembre sa gitna ng nagpapatuloy na vaccination program ng pamahalaan kontra COVID-19.

Ayon kay Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, malaki ang kumpiyansa ng pamahalaan na makakamit ang target na ito gaya ng nararanasan na ngayon sa ilang bansa.

“Kaya po yan. kaya nga po we are aiming for population protection… Kasi alam na natin sa mga bansang nakamit na nila ang containment, hindi na sila nagmamaskara at least sa outdoors gaya po ng Israel at ilang lugar sa Amerika,” ani Roque.

Sa datos ng pamahalaan as of June 16, 5.51 milyon na ang nakatanggap ng first dose ng COVID-19 vaccine sa buong bansa.Nasa 2.012 milyon naman ang nakakumpleto na ng doses.

Una nang sinabi ng pamahalaan na target nitong mabakunahan ang nasa 70 milyong mamamayan ngayong taon.

Ayon naman sa biological sciences expert na si Nicanor Austriaco, achievable ang target na ito kung hindi magkakaroon ng problema sa pagdating ng supply ng bakuna sa bansa.

Kailangan ding umabot sa 250,000 doses ang mai-administer sa isang araw sa National Capital Region (NCR) Plus areas mula ngayong buwan ng Hunyo hanggang November 30, 2021 upang maabot ang containment sa greater manila area gayundin ang tinatatarget na herd immunity.

“I follow the number of vaccinations in the NCR Plus 8, we have the capacity as long as we have the supply. I am hopeful that the supplies are arriving based on the schedule that Sec. (Carlito) Galvez has published,” ani Austriaco.

Giit pa nito, dapat mauna ang herd immunity kontra COVID-19 sa NCR plus upang maiwasan ang nangyaring spill over ng coronavirus infections sa iba pang bahagi ng bansa.

Sinabi rin ni Austriaco na hindi ginagamit ang bakuna upang tugunan ang kasalukuyang mabilis na pagtaas ng COVID-19 cases sa ilang bahagi ng bansa kundi upang maiwasan ang future surge na karaniwang nag-uumpisa sa Greater Manila area. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

PH to receive 1.5 million more Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine doses on June 17

Robie de Guzman   •   June 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will receive on Thursday, June 17, some 1.5 million more doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Chinese drug firm Sinovac Biotech, the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 said.

In a media advisory, the NTF said the shipment will be carried by a Cebu Pacific flight, which is expected to arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 at 7:30 a.m.

The incoming vaccine doses will be the third batch of Sinovac shots to be delivered to the Philippines in June.

The vaccines will then be transported to the cold storage facility of Pharmaserv Express, Inc. in Marikina City where they will be preserved prior to distribution to local government units.

Once delivered, the country’s vaccine supply will increase to more than 14 million doses.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said that around six million more vaccine doses are expected to arrive in the remaining days of June.

Senior citizens vaccinated vs COVID-19 should still avoid public places: DOH exec

Robie de Guzman   •   June 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Elderly people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should still avoid going to public places as they remain vulnerable to contracting the viral disease, a health official said Wednesday.

During the Laging Handa public briefing, Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said vulnerable groups, including senior citizens, should still stay at home because only a small part of the country’s population has been vaccinated.

“Ang bakuna can prevent hospitalization and death pero puwede ka pa rin magkaroon ng COVID-19,” he said.

“So kailangan, lalo na kung vulnerable kayo, dapat wag muna magsilabas, lalo na ang mga seniors kasi ang population natin konti pa ang nabakunahan,” he added.

Vega said senior citizens who have completed their vaccination doses should only go to public places when at least 50 percent of the community has been vaccinated.

“That would lessen the transmission of the virus to the vulnerable group,” he said.

When going outdoors, elderly people should follow public health protocols such as wearing of face mask and observing physical distancing. They should also avoid staying in places that are not well ventilated.

“Alam naman nila kung paano nata-transmit yung virus, dapat kung sa indoor sila, pwede silang lumabas as long as they are [following] minimum public health standards. Iwasan po nila yung crowd gatherings, iwasan nila ang pagkain sa loob ng institutions na hindi maganda ang ventilation,” Vega said.

The government has been vaccinating priority groups, including healthcare workers (A1), senior citizens (A2), persons with co-morbidities (A3), and essential workers (A4), since it rolled out its COVID-19 immunization program in March.

As of June 13, the Philippines has administered a total of 6,948,549 COVID-19 vaccine doses. Of this, 5,068,855 are first doses, and 1,879,694 are second doses.

Around 479,034 senior citizens have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

The government is urging eligible populations belonging to priority groups A1 to A4 to register, get vaccinated and complete the required number of doses as scheduled.

It also advised the vaccinated population to continue practicing the minimum public health standards as they may still get infected with COVID-19 and infect other people.

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