To aid in the country’s fight against future pandemics, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go supports the establishment of a virology institute which will eventually enable the country to develop and manufacture its own vaccines against diseases, such as Covid-19.
Lamenting the hardships government authorities need to go through to procure vaccines from the global market, Go envisions the proposed institute to create strategic partnerships with other leading virology centers, institutes and scientists and conduct innovative research that will advance the country’s progress and development in the field of virology.
These research works could eventually be adopted by concerned government agencies, private entities, and the academe to guide them in developing policies, implementing action plans, and managing medical resources during health crises.
“Ako naman po ay pabor naman po ako dahil ‘di natin masabi kung may pandemya pa na darating sa buhay natin. So mabuti na po na maging proactive tayo. Someday, magkaroon sana tayo ng sariling vaccine manufacturer sa bansa (I am in favor of this because we’ll never know when the next pandemic will hit us. It is better to be proactive. Someday, we hope to have our own vaccine manufacturer),” Go said in an interview on Monday.
Go said the country must study how to develop, produce, and manufacture its own vaccines.
“Now it’s take it or leave it. Kung ‘di tayo sumunod sa kanilang agreement ay di tayo mabibigyan ng bakuna. Halos nagmamakaawa pa tayo (If we don’t agree with them, they won’t give us vaccines. It’s short of begging),” he said.
“Naaawa na nga po ako sa mga kasamahan natin sa gobyerno na halos walang tulog para bigyan lang tayo ng bakuna. Ginagawa naman po ng gobynero ang lahat sa abot ng makakaya para makakuha ng bakuna. (I pity my fellow government workers. They don’t sleep anymore, just to fulfill their duties to provide us with vaccines.)”
The government has allocated PHP50 million under the 2021 General Appropriations Act for the detailed engineering design of the virology institute that is planned to be built in New Clark City, Tarlac.
The institute is included in the government’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.
Measures have also been introduced in Congress to institutionalize the proposed virology research.
Meanwhile, Go urged the government to invest in building local manufacturing capabilities to eventually veer away from the country’s reliance on the international market for vaccines.
The senator also asked the Department of Science and Technology, with the help of health experts, local pharmaceutical companies, the private sector, as well as those from the academe, to engage with international vaccine producers so that the government could immediately start locally manufacturing much needed Covid-19 vaccines.
“This initiative will not only boost our local vaccine supply but can also help increase production of vaccines in the world market in the future,” he said.