Duterte offers P10M reward to Pinoy who develops vaccine for COVID-19

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    The President at the IATF meeting where he announced a reward of P10M for Filipinos who can invent of cure for COVID-19. (Photo from Sen. Bong Go)

    PRESIDENT Duterte is offering a P10-million reward to any Filipino who can come up with a vaccine against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), his spokesman said yesterday.

    Harry Roque said the President has also offered to provide a “substantial grant” to the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital for the possible development of a vaccine.

    No other details about the reward, like where government will get the funds for the reward.

    The President last week said the Philippines is ready to participate in clinical trials and studies for potential vaccines and medicines for COVID-19. The Philippines is among participants of trials led by the World Health Organization and participated in by some 70 countries.

    Duterte has also said some private pharmaceutical companies are developing potential treatment for COVID-19.

    The Philippines has produced a coronavirus test kit and it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration early this month.

    The GenAmplify™ COVID-19 rRT-PCR Detection Kit was developed by a team of scientists from the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health, the Philippine Genome Center, and The Manila HealthTek Inc.

    The Philippines recorded 6,599 COVID-19 positive cases as of April 21 with 654 recovered and 437 deaths.

    Senate majority leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who has recovered from COVID-19, donated blood to the Philippine General Hospital to aid the medical community in its search for COVID-19 treatment.

    Zubiri is the first senator to have been infected with COVID-19.

    “I was very lucky to have recovered with no complications. But that is not the case for many other patients, whose bodies are less prepared to fight this disease. If plasma donations can help them in any way, then I am more than happy to offer mine,” Zubiri said.

    Plasma, a liquid component of blood, is being used as part of a trial therapy on critical COVID-19 patients in several countries. A treatment called convalescent plasma therapy makes use of antibodies taken from a person who has recovered from the disease. It is transfused into a COVID patient to help boost his or her immune system.

    So far, several patients given plasma treatment at the PGH and St. Luke’s Medical Center showed significant improvements in their condition.

    “All of us healthier, perhaps younger people who have been blessed with full recovery from COVID-19 — we need to go donate. It’s a fairly simple process, and you’ll be able to help so many people,” he added.

    Zubiri publicly announced he was infected with the virus on March 16. Two other senators who were infected were Aquilino Pimentel III Juan Edgardo Angara. Angara donated blood last week.