DOST pushes for the establishment of Philippine Space Agency

admin   •   November 18, 2016   •   7694

File photo: Satellite

File photo: Satellite

 

Bills that would establish the Philippine Space Agency (PSA) have now been filed in Congress.

These are House Bill 3637 and Senate Bill 1211, which are expected to undergo first reading in January next year.

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said, having a space agency in the country is timely and would help a lot in times of calamity and, especially for national security.

“All of these things put together, I think, justifies the investment in space technology,” Sec. Dela Peña said.

Dr. Rogel Mari Sese of DOST’s Philippine Space Science Education Program said, having a space agency means the government can save 40% of its billing for satellite images.

Satellite can be used to estimate how much rice can be harvested per season or to locate large number of fish in the ocean.

“Based on the studies that we have done, we saw that in terms of economic benefits, every 1 peso that the Philippines will invest in a space program will get a return of about 2.50 pesos,” Dr. Sese said.

Last year, the first Philippine microsatellite named Diwata-1 was launched which cost 840 million pesos.  Meanwhile, Diwata-2 is expected to be launched in 2018.

In the same year, DOST is targetting the establishment of the Philippine Space Agency.

The government has allocated 1 billion pesos each for 2017 and 2018 and 2 billion pesos of every succeeding year.

They will also train up to 800 individuals within 10 years under the program. — Rey Pelayo | UNTV News & Rescue

Phivolcs to launch mobile app for volcano information

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) will launch a mobile app on Monday (June 21) to make the current status of volcanoes easily available to the public.

On Thursday (June 17), Phivolcs announced that the “VolcanoPH Info” app will be available on Android devices. Through the app, the public can access the latest volcano bulletins and advisories.

The app will help users understand the current volcano status, and more importantly, identify the necessary preparedness and response actions for their safety.

“We aim to provide the users with accessible and easy-to-read information,” said DOST Undersecretary and Phivolcs Officer-in-Charge Renato Solidum Jr.

Once a user is able to access the app, he or she can select from the list of volcanoes with alert levels on the homepage.

The selection will provide the user with a summary of the 24-hour observation period containing the alert level, monitoring parameters, and recommendations in the Filipino language.

Future developments of the app include the English language setting and iOS version. AAC

Philippines to conduct real-world study on effects of COVID-19 vaccines — DOST

Robie de Guzman   •   May 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is eyeing to conduct a study on the effects of vaccines against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in a real-world setting, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said Tuesday.

DOST Undersecretary Rowena Guevara said the study will look into the vaccines’ efficacy, as well as seek answers to questions on its effects as determined by ethnicity and how long will it last on Filipinos.

Guevara said the study will include all vaccine brands available in the country. It is targeted to begin in June.

“Real-world data will answer questions on the effect on the ethnicity kasi Pilipino na ngayon iyong mga bakunado that’s one. Second, iyong pinakaimportanteng masagot, ano iyong efficacy niya over time? Kasi iyon wala pang masyadong mga sagot doon sa tanong na iyon kasi hindi pa tapos lahat ng Phase 3 trials ng lahat ng bakuna na ito, lahat sila naka-EUA pa,” she told reporters in a briefing.

The study will cost about P100 million and would need around 1,000 participants who have not received the vaccine by the time the trial starts.

Guevara said the study would follow participants for about a year to review the effect of COVID-19 vaccines, particularly on Filipinos.

The DOST official said the proposal was not yet final and still subject to approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

Once approved and underway, the Philippines’ study on the vaccines’ effects in a real-world setting will be the latest to be done following studies undertaken by the United Kingdom, the United States, Israel, Indonesia, and Chile, among others.

The Philippines has so far administered more than 4 million doses since the government started its immunization program on March 1. COVID-19 vaccines used in the inoculation are Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Sputnik V. RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

Clinical trials on ivermectin to start in June – DOST

Marje Pelayo   •   May 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said that preparations are underway for the anticipated clinical trials on the use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday (May 5), the official said the trials will be spearheaded by pulmonary doctor Dr. Aileen Wang of the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) and will be implemented for eight months from June 2021 to January 2022.

He said the Department of Health (DOH) has allotted a total of P22 million for the trial of ivermectin.

It will be conducted on 1,200 volunteer adults, 18 years old and above, who are asymptomatic or non-severe COVID patients.

The team is awaiting ethics approval this month before proceeding with the trial.

“Ang ginagawa ay ethics approval para sa kanilang gagawin at recruitment ng staff na mag-a-administer ng clinical trials,” Dela Peña said.

They are currently coordinating with the Philippine Red Cross for the utilization of its facilities.

Other agents also under clinical trial are as follows:

* Randomized control clinical trial on the efficacy and safety of Tawa Tawa for adjunctive treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 patients (11 months);

* Randomized, placebo-controlled trial on the safety and efficacy of Lagundi in patients with mild COVID and without comorbidities (10 months);

* Clinical trial on the safety and efficacy of virgin coconut oil (VCO) as adjunctive therapy for hospitalized COVID patients (12 months);

* Beneficial effects of VCO among suspect and probable cases of COVID-19 (14 months, extension included);

* Melatonin as adjuvant treatment for COVID-19 in patients requiring hospitalization (9 months) ;

* Convalescent Plasma as adjunctive therapy for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. (12 months).

Dela Peña noted that the duration of clinical trials for ivermectin is almost similar in period as other agents. The progress of each study still depends on the number of patients who want to volunteer for the trial.

“Kapag dumadami ang pasyenteng magbo-volunteer, mas mapapabilis ang pagtatapos ng mga trials,” the official assured.

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