By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — Partido Reporma senatorial aspirant Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar has expressed full support to plans of manufacturing the country’s own medicines and a better healthcare system.
In a recent report, a Balik Scientist of the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) has noted that the Philippines is the only country in Asia that does not produce vaccines for its own people and he added that “this is something the government needs to work on in preparation for other possible pandemics that may strike the Philippines in the near future.
“We really have to supply people with vaccines,” Dr. Annabelle Villalobos, a consultant of Johnson & Johnson Biopharmaceuticals, said during a DoST webinar on health research and development for Covid-19.
According to Eleazar, while the country is not yet ready to manufacture its own vaccines, it can start with a simpler process of formulating, filling and packaging these, in which active product ingredients will be imported from other countries if the jabs would be for Covid-19.
“And to do that, a lot of training from the academe and DoST must be done along with the technical support and regulatory consultation,” the former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief even as he lauded the national police for pushing efforts to have its personnel vaccinated under its vaccination program which is now nearing 100 percent full implementation.
Dr. Villalobos disclosed that “if the (formulation, filling, and packaging) would be done here locally, it could create at least 250 jobs for scientists, engineers and personnel in the allied fields.”
“The manufacturing of vaccines needs a lot of expertise that is higher and more specialized than the formulation, filling, and packaging, because of the requirements of dealing with raw materials, auditing suppliers and validation. But if the country would become a filling facility, it would be easier to train the workforce to produce the vaccines,” she said.
The Balik Scientist noted that it was timely that the establishment of the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP) is already underway with the allotment of a PhP284 million funding for the purchase of equipment intended for the research activities of the VIP.
For her part, science undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara enthused that the soon-to-rise institute would be the country’s premier research facility that would focus on studying viruses and viral diseases and developing vaccines on humans, animals and plants and in addition, she said that through the help of the private sector, the Philippines might start producing Covid vaccines by late 2022. (ai/mtvn)