Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Peña (File photo)

MANILA – Department of Science and Technology Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Peña on Monday lauded scientists and researchers for helping the nation in the fight against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

"Nagpapasalamat ako sa kanila at pinapupurihan ko sila (I thank them, and I commend them)," he said during the "Alerto" broadcast.

He said a Filipino scientist could earn better if they work abroad, but many of them opted to serve here.

In a public address aired Monday night, President Rodrigo Duterte instructed the DOST and the Food and Drug Administration to put additional manpower and employ as many as they can, so that work can be done day and night.

"Maganda ang hangarin ng Pangulo. Kaya titingnan namin kung aling serbisyo namin ang mangangailangan ng ganoon. Pero ang gusto rin niya talaga ay mapabilis ang completion ng aming mga projects na tugon sa Covid-19 at sa iba pang mga epidemya na maaaring dumating in the future. Para sa kabutihan nating lahat ang hangarin ng Pangulo. (The President has a good intention. We would look at which among our services would need [24/7 work]. He wanted to hasten the completion of our projects in response to Covid-19 and other epidemic that may arrive in the future. The President's desire is for the benefit of everyone,)" dela Peña said in a text message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Among the projects include the RapidPass, the RxBox deployment in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), and the two studies on the efficacy of virgin coconut oil (VCO) in the recovery of Covid-19 patients.

For the VCO studies, the DOST is set to conduct two clinical trials -- a hospital and a community-based trial.
In the community-based trial, VCO would be incorporated in the food provided to the patients, as well as their contacts and other high-risk groups. The hospital-based clinical trial would assess the possible benefits of VCO if given to patients with moderate to severe Covid-19.

Dela Peña told the PNA that the VCO community-based trial was already approved. The training of community hospitals involved would start on Tuesday.

"We are still awaiting the approval of UP Manila's Ethics Review Board for the VCO (clinical) trial in PGH," he added.

In the meantime, the RapidPass is a system that would enable front-liners and essential workers to pass the checkpoints by simply allowing personnel to scan their QR codes developed by the DOST and its partners.

On the other hand, the RxBox biomedical device capable of capturing medical signals through built-in medical sensors is distributed to the PGH and a hospital in Laguna to help health workers monitor patients with minimal contact.

An RxBox could monitor a patient's vital signs, pulse rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and even electrocardiogram readings. (PNA)