(PNA file photo)

MANILA – The House of Representatives on Monday overwhelmingly approved on third and final reading a measure seeking to establish a virology and vaccine research institute in the country, which is a legislative priority of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

During plenary session, a total of 216 lawmakers voted in favor of House Bill (HB) 6452, which seeks to establish a Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines (VIP) that would primarily focus on the key science and technology applications in the development of vaccines for viruses and other pathogens.

Speaker Martin Romualdez, author of the measure, hailed the approval of the priority legislation as it would help the country combat a "pandemic of global proportions".

“What we learned from the last pandemic is that if a health crisis is in a scale that crosses international borders, we have to act fast and rely on our own resources. We need to respond to it effectively. A virology and vaccine institute can help us stop a deadly virus in its tracks,” Romualdez said.

Romualdez also expressed gratitude to the House members for fast-tracking the deliberations and recognizing the importance of a virology center.

The proposed institute will conduct in-depth studies on viruses and their potential disease-causing agents that affect people, plants and animals to provide the scientific bases for the treatment of viral diseases, and for the formulation of policies that shall prevent the transmission of these diseases.

The VIP will serve as the premier research and development institute in the field of virology, encompassing all kinds of viruses and viral diseases in plants, animals and humans.

It shall also be a venue for scientists, research institutes and other organizations in the Philippines and abroad to work collaboratively to study viruses of agricultural, industrial, clinical and environmental importance.
The bill also mandates the VIP to implement policies, plans, programs and projects for the development of virology science and technology in the country and the promotion of scientific technological activities for both public and private sectors.

The VIP shall serve as the lead convener for the formulation of the National Virology Research Agenda.

It will also undertake scientific and technological research and development in the field of virology, as well as conduct product research and development in the areas of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines in cooperation with the private sector and concerned agencies.

An information system on virology science and technology shall be developed and maintained for use by both the public and private sectors. (PNA)