P10M for vaccine

April 22, 2020

We are approaching 40 days of uninteerupted community quarattine, but there are np convincing signs that we are nearing a turning point to the much desired flattened curve of the 2019 corona virus diseease contaegion.

Even the most economically advanced  and militarily strong countries are far from achieving breakthroughs in their frantic efforts to develop a vaccine – not the US, European countries, or even Asian giants like Japa and China where Covid-19 and other deadly previous outbreaks began.

And while our medical frontlines are mightily putting up a gallant defense against the viral onslaught, the body count has not stopped rising.

Ironically, medical professionals and support staff are among the serial victims.

Can anyone provide the magic potion  the vaccine – which can end the pandemic?      

An apparently desperate President Duterte is offering up to P10- million reward to Filipino scientists and experts who can develop a vaccine against Covid-19.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte made this pronouncement after meeting with health experts, including former secretaries of the Department of Health on Monday.

“he President announced that he will be giving a P 10 million reward to any Filipino who can discover a vaccine against Covid-19,” he said.

Roque said Duterte would also be giving the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital  a “substantial grant” to develop a vaccine.

“The President is also asking me to announce that he will give a substantial grant to UP and UP-PGH to develop a vaccine to fight Covid-19,” he said.

He did not mention the amount of the substantial grant to be given to the state-run UP-PGH.

In a televised meeting with select members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Inter-Agency Task Force last April 9, Duterte praised UP-PGH for considering the use of antibodies found in the blood of Covid-19 survivors to treat patients who were severely ill.

“Our hope is…including UP, we take pride in our doctors. They’re bright. They found out that those who have recovered from Covid-19 have antibodies,” he said.

A team of scientists from the UP-National Institutes of Health, the Philippine Genome Center, and The Manila HealthTek Inc. also developed Covid-19 test kits which can release results in just two hours.

The Food and Drug Administration  issued a certificate of product registration to the locally-made test kits last April 3.

During his address at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Plus Three Summit on Covid-19 with Japan, China and South Korea last April 15, Duterte said the Philippines is willing to join the other countries in conducting clinical trials of Avigan, a Japanese anti-viral drug, for potential treatment of Covid-19.

Researches at Wuhan University and other institutions in China have revealed that Avigan, developed by a subsidiary of Japan-based Fujifilm Holdings Corp., is seen as an effective drug in treating Covid-19.

Japan has begun conducting clinical tests to examine the effectiveness and safety of Avigan, otherwise known as Favipiravir, to Covid-19 patients.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga earlier announced the Japanese government’s plan to offer Avigan for free to nations hit by Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier, World Health Organization’s health emergency program executive director Dr. Mike Ryan said it could take at least a year to develop a vaccine as protection against Covid-19.

Though a vaccine has yet to be developed, he said countries could start implementing strong measures such as widespread testing.