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PH Genome Center: No fund yet to test efficacy of vaccines vs COVID-19 variants

/ 03:26 PM July 27, 2021
PH Genome Center: No fund yet to test efficacy of vaccines vs COVID-19 variants

Philippine Genome Center (Photo from the PGC Facebook page)

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Genome Center (PGC) has yet to secure the P7 million budget it needs to test the efficacy of available COVID-19 vaccines against different coronavirus variants of concern.

PGC Executive Director Dr. Cynthia Saloma revealed this Tuesday, during an online briefing of the Department of Health (DOH) where she was sought for an update on the matter.

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“Wala pa. You know, ‘yung funding ng agencies na sinasabi ay from 2022, 2023 funding. Eh luma na ang balita sa 2022 and 2023. Gusto natin ngayon taon. Bakit? Because our vaccine team, they actually need advice,” she said.

(Not yet. You know, the funding for agencies are for 2022 and 2023. But the study may no longer be new in 2022 and 2023. We want to have it this year. Why? Because our vaccine team really needs advice.)

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To recall, Saloma noted in a June interview with ONE News that the PGC has asked for the fund to be able to conduct testing on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines against various coronavirus variants of concern.

According to her, the testing is important to help government leaders decide on which vaccines to procure.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominquez III has disclosed that the government has already set aside P45 billion for 2022 for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Sinabi na ng ating pamahalaan na naka-allot na ang P45 billion para sa 2022 vaccine budget natin. So if you can have data kung ano ba ang maganda sa bansa natin, that will really inform government decision-makers kung ano ang o-orderin nilang vaccines,” Saloma pointed out.

(The government said they have allotted P45 million for the vaccine budget in 2022. If you can have data on what vaccines will be good for the country, that will inform government decision makers on which vaccines they should order.)

She said the PGC is set to present next week its plan for the proposed study, which will use pseudovirus, before the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.

“Pwedeng gumawa ng pseudovirus for Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Theta variants. ‘Yung pseudovirus, para siyang surrogate virus,” she explained.

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(We can do pseudovirus for the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Theta variants. Pseudovirus is like a surrogate virus.)

“’Yung mga na-vaccinate at naturally infected, magco-collect ng mga sera sa kanila at ite-test sa mga virus na ito kung may neutralization,” Saloma added.

(We will collect sera from those vaccinated and naturally infected and we will test on these viruses if there’s neutralization.)

Based on the latest DOH data, the country has so far detected 119 cases of the highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant that was first discovered in India, as well as 1,773 cases of the Alpha variant (United Kingdom), 2,019 cases of the Beta variant (South Africa), and two cases of the Gamma variant (Brazil).

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