PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has raised the reward money for Filipino scientists who could develop a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) to P50 million.
“‘Yung P10 million ko sa ating mga scientists dito sa Pilipinas, the bright Filipinos who are there working day and night trying to combat Covid-19, i-raise ko ang bounty to P50 million,” Duterte said during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Thursday night, April 23, 2020.
“Baka sa ligaya ko, another P50 million, kung maligaya ako masyado, eh di P100 million,” he added.
Portions of the meeting were broadcast Friday morning, April 24.
Duterte reiterated that he will immediately lift the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) once a vaccine against Covid-19 becomes commercially available.
“Sa oras na labas ang vaccine, i-lift ko kaagad, wala nang seremonya, ‘wag na kayo maghintay, basta sinabing may vaccine,” he said.
Malacanang also said earlier that a “substantial grant” will be provided to the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) to help scientists research and develop a vaccine.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said that as of April 20, 2020, five candidate vaccines were undergoing clinical trials, which means these are being tested on humans.
Leading the race is China’s CanSino Biological Inc. in partnership with Beijing Institute of Biotechnology. They are now on phase 2 of their clinical trials.
Other developers conducting clinical trials are Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Beijing Institute of Biological Products / Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, Sinovac, and Moderna/NIAID.
Meanwhile, 71 other candidate vaccines are under pre-clinical evaluation.
The WHO is coordinating the development of these vaccines. Experts have said that a vaccine may be commercially available in at least one year. (Jove T. Moya/ SunStar Philippines)