Gatchalian reiterates need for Virology and Vaccine Institute

MANILA, (PIA) — Amid the celebration of World Immunization Week from April 24 to April 30, Senator Win Gatchalian pressed the need to establish the Virology and Vaccine Institute, which would help strengthen local capacity for vaccine development.

Kapag nagkaroon na tayo ng sarili nating Virology and Vaccine Institute, matutugunan na natin ang pangangailangan sa tama at napapanahong pananaliksik at suplay ng mga bakuna tulad ng nararanasan natin ngayon sa bakuna ng pertussis. Tulad ng karanasan natin noong panahon ng pandemya ng COVID-19, nakita natin kung gaano kahalaga ang pagkakaroon ng sariling produksyon ng mga bakuna,” said Gatchalian.

Gatchalian made his call as the country continues to deal with rising pertussis or whooping cough cases, with the Department of Health (DOH) recording 1,477 cases and 63 fatalities from January 1 to April 6. The DOH added that children under five years old make up 76 percent of recorded cases. 

While pertussis cases are rising steadily, the DOH previously flagged a looming shortage of pertussis vaccines by May. The agency, however, was able to secure three million pertussis doses from the Serum Institute of India to ensure continuous vaccine supply in May and June. Six million doses of pentavalent vaccines, which offer protection against pertussis, diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type b, are expected to arrive by July. 

Supply woes highlight the need to boost local capacity for vaccine development, according to Gatchalian. Under the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines (VIP) Act of 2022, the senator seeks initiatives to boost technology transfer, as well as sustained production and local capacities in vaccine development. The proposed measure seeks to create the VIP to serve as the premier research and development institute in the field of virology, encompassing all areas of viruses and viral diseases in plants, animals, and humans. (PIA-NCR)

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