First PH-made train began operations in PNR

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 6, 2019   •   2154

The first Philippine-made hybrid electric train operated for the first time in the Philippine National Railways (PNR) on Monday (May 6) for its validation test.

READ: First PH-made train to operate this May

Liza Pertumen takes the PNR train everyday. From Laguna to Muntinlupa, she travels early at dawn to work as a laundry woman. The train ticket costs P20.

Riding the PNR is convenient, she said. It costs way less compared to the P200 fare and there is no traffic.

Liza will be one of the possible passengers of the first Philippine-made hybrid electric train once it officially begins operations.

The hybrid electric train took passengers for a free ride as part of its validation test that will last until May 28. It currently operates from Alabang to Calamba, Laguna station.

According to PNR Spokesperson Joseline Geronimo, in case the trains pass the validation test they will begin its revenue operation. Geronimo also said the hybrid electric train will also help in increasing the number of train sets in PNR.

“Makakadagdag siya sa aming magagamit dahil as of now medyo limited iyong aming number of train sets dahil iyong aming ine-expect na nga brand new trains ay dadating palang before the end of June, (As of now, we have a limited number of train sets so [the hybrid train] will help. Our expected new trains will be arriving before the end of June.)” he said.

The PNR management still hasn’t decided on the fare for the hybrid train.

The first Philippine-made hybrid electric train was made and designed by the engineers of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). It has two power sources: battery and generator.

“It has two power sources so [iyong] pagiging hybrid niya nagiging more energy efficient siya and environment friendly kasi nagiging less ang fuel consumption natin and iyong gas emission less din (So its hybrid design is more energy efficient and environment-friendly. It has less fuel consumption and gas emission),” according to Engr. Pablo Acuin, project manager of DOST.

The hybrid train is also composed of five fully air-conditioned freight cars with CCTV. It took five years to make the train which is worth P120 million.

It can run from 60 to 80 kilometers and can accommodate up to 800 passengers per travel.(with reports from Joan Nano)



IATF approves Phl participation in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Maris Federez   •   May 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Upon the recommendation of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the proposed participation of the Philippines in clinical trials that seek to formulate a potential vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Based on IATF Resolution No.39 dated May 22, 2020, the task force has also ordered the creation of a sub-technical working group which will be led by the DOST.

The group will be coordinating with the four collaborating organizations composed of the Department of Health (DOH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and the World Health Organization (WHO) with regard to the said clinical trials.

The IATF has also issued a directive to the FDA to facilitate the processing of necessary permits for the conduct of the clinical trials in the country.

The collaborating organizations for the clinical trials are the Adimmune Corporation, Academia Sinica, Chinese Academy of Science- Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, the Sinopharm – Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, and the Beijing Institute.

Once the clinical trials are undertaken, these will be included in the FDA’s requirements for the registration process for the vaccine and the application for certificate of registration to make the vaccine available in the market.

The Philippines has initially participated in the WHO’s clinical trials, which include the testing of off-label drugs that show potential of being effective against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the IATF has also approved the plans of the DOST to construct research centers for the local vaccine research development.

These include the Virology S&T Institute at the New Clark City in Tarlac and the reactivation of the Pharmaceutical Development Unit of the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute. —(from the report of Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

Duterte approves hiring of additional workers for FDA, DOST

Marje Pelayo   •   April 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is busy processing applications for licenses of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test kits and all other products necessary in the country’s fight against the global pandemic.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), meanwhile, is focusing on research and development of treatment or vaccine against COVID-19.

Due to the volume of work and the high demand for additional workforce, President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed the two agencies to hire more personnel to join the government’s COVID-19 response.

“I have authorized these two offices — the FDA and the DOST — to employ as much as many that would be required to expedite [the processes] and to enable the agencies to work day and night. As I have said, we are fighting a war here, a crisis,” the President said in Filipino during his live address to the nation on Monday (April 27).

Meanwhile in his Joint Congressional Oversight Committee report, the President noted that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) already approved the hiring of additional workers for the Department of Health (DOH). 

The DOH requested for additional 15,757 healthcare professionals who will be given three-months contract of service and will be funded with P2.7-billion.

The DOH said seven hospitals have signified their request for additional medical personnel to cope with the volume of workload in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

DOST eyes collaborations with other countries to develop COVID-19 vaccine

Marje Pelayo   •   April 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is willing to accept individuals or organizations who wish to collaborate with the government in developing a cure against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The idea comes after President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer of P50 million cash reward to anyone who will develop the much needed vaccine.

But according to DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, the task will not be easy as there is no established institution in the country dedicated to the development of vaccines.

Developing a vaccine is a tedious and lengthy process but the official said many institutions focusing on research and development (R&D) may attempt to develop one for COVID-19.

“Mayroon silang biorepository ng iba’t-ibang samples so puwede. Madali silang maka-shift into a particular disease lalo na kung may history na sila na naka-develop na sila ng mga vaccines,” Dela Peña said.

(They have biorepository of different samples so it’s possible. It is easier for them to shift [focus] into a particular disease especially if they already have a history of developing vaccines.)

Aside from seeking interests from here in the Philippines, the Department eyes working in partnership with other countries with bilateral agreement with the Philippines on R&D and are currently conducting studies and experiments on a potential vaccine for COVID-19.

Kung nandoon na sila sa stage na mayroon na silang na-develop ay makikisabay tayo sa kanila sa clinical trials,” the DOST chief said.

(If they are in that stage of developing [a vaccine], we will just collaborate with their clinical trials.)

Meanwhile, the DOST is sending samples of locally-produced lauric acid to other countries for testing if such can directly fight viruses such as the one causing COVID-19.

Lauric acid is a by-product of coconut fat which is believed to have potential benefits to human health. – MNP (with inputs from Rey Pelayo)

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