By Deighton Acuin and Archie Villaflores

PHOTO: TechViral News

There are already plans for the Philippines to develop its own COVID-19 vaccines to reduce the reliance on other countries, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing that Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato de la Peña recommended the establishment of the country’s first Institute of Vaccinology.

However, he clarified the country is contributing to “worldwide effort to come up with the treatment to COVID-19.”

“Tama po kayo. Dumating na ‘yung punto na ang Pilipinas ay nag-iisip na rin magkaroon ng kakayahan na magdevelop ng sarilinng bakuna,” Roque told correspondents.

Roque noted that the country continues to actively participate in the clinical trial for the use of lagundi (Vitex negundo or Chinese chaste tree), tawa-tawa (Euphorbia hirta or asthma-plant), and virgin coconut oil as a supplementary treatment for the coronavirus disease.

Roque said that the Philippines is also participating in the trials for the effectiveness of convalescent plasma for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Convalescent plasma is the transfusion of blood plasma from someone who recovered from COVID-19.

Countries like India and United States authorized the use of convalescent plasma for emergency use.

However, there is insufficient evidence to prove its effectiveness in COVID-19 treatment.

The DOST announced last year that the research and development on medicinal plants such as lagundi and tawa-tawa is part of its initiatives to help the government fights the coronavirus pandemic.

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