Science chief reveals zoning for WHO solidarity trial

Department of Science and Technology secretary Fortunato Dela Peña recently announces the IATF’s adoption of DOST recommendation for zoning on the WHO solidarity trials for vaccine candidate. (Photo by Henry A. De Leon, S&T Media Service) In his weekly department update and report to the nation, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña revealed that the COVID-19 Interagency Task Force (IATF) has accepted DOST’s recommendation for zoning on the solidarity trials for the vaccine candidates against COVID-19 that will be conducted this year.

Secretary de la Peña explained that there should be no competition in terms of the trials to be conducted and all are working together to find a solution to the pandemic. 

The science chief added that there are eight trial zones where the vaccines will be tested. The eight zones will involve 13 hospitals in all. In the National Capital Region, there will be nine, namely: the Philippine General Hospital, Manila Doctors Hospital, San Lazaro Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, St. Luke’s Medical Center- Quezon City, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Makati Medical Center, The Medical City, and St. Luke’s Medical Center–BGC.

Other hospitals identified are in the provinces, namely: Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Chong Hua Hospital in Cebu City, De La Salle Health Sciences Institute in Cavite, and Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City.
Secretary de la Peña added that the World Health Organization solidarity trials will start this October and expected to be completed by the second quarter of the following year.

He also confirmed that the Philippines is in agreement with five COVID- 19 vaccine developers that will enable clinical trial data sharing.
On the other hand, ventilators developed by groups of local developers are undergoing testing for its functionality at DOST’s Electronics Products Development Center.

“Iyan ang unang hakbang, kapag pumasa sila diyan through a third-party evaluation ay maaari na silang magsimula ng clinical trials involving humans at yan naman ay popondohan natin,” Secretary De la Peña said. Currently, there are three groups that are developing ventilators to help address the increased demand for it in hospitals due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The DOST Report is a weekly broadcast of the Science and Technology Information Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-STII) highlighting the various initiatives and innovations of the DOST aired live every Friday through the DOSTv Facebook and Youtube channel. By Joy M. Lazcano, S&T Media Service


Soybean Processing Hub, itatayo ng DOST-CAR, PhilMech sa Ifugao

Isang memorandum of agreement o MOA ang nilagdaan kamakailan ng Department of Science and Technology o DOST-Cordillera Administrative Region (DOST-CAR) at Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization o PhilMech para sa pagdedevelop ng soybean processing industry sa Ifugao.

Pinamagatang “S&T Intervention for the Development of the Soybean Processing Industry in Ifugao: A PhilMech and DOST-CAR Collaborative Project,” layon ng proyekto na palaguin ang industriya ng pagproseso ng soybean o mas kilala sa tawag na “utaw”.

Ang mga aktibidad na kasama sa proyekto ay ang pagtatayo ng isang soybean processing technology hub sa Ifugao na may angkop na mga teknolohiya at pagsasanay sa soybean processing sa ilalim ng Current Good Manufacturing Practices o cGMP, product costing, packaging, at labelling.

Magbibigay ang DOST-CAR ng science and technology interventions, kabilang na ang pagbili ng aprobadong mga kagamitan at makinarya, pagsasagawa ng mga pagsasanay, pagbibigay ng tulong sa packaging at labeling katuwang ang PhilMech, at pagbibigay ng laboratory services tulad ng water and soybean roast product nutrient analyses at shelf-life study.

Ang naturang technology hub ay itatayo sa PSTC Building, IFSU Campus, Nayon, Lamut, Ifugao na pagtutulungang itaguyod ng DOST-CAR, PhilMech at ng mga soybean producers and processors ng CAR.

Layunin ng proyekto ang maka-pagproduce ng isang technology adopter sa unang taon ng operasyon nito.


Science communication should also be a priority in the time of pandemic, says DOST exec

 With the emergence of the pandemic caused by Coronavirus Disease-2019 or COVID-19, reliable and well-researched content and materials have indeed become more imminent- to be able to explain science facts in simple terms that even non-scientists will understand. 

This was the gist of the message shared by the Department of Science and Technology-Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII) Director Richard P. Burgos during the department’s virtual flag-raising ceremony on 03 August 2020. 

“Due to COVID-19, we learned to adapt and to fully embrace technology so that we, as an agency involves primarily in science communication, can continue to deliver science to more people and preserve their right to be informed, to be educated, to be inspired, to be engaged and to take action,” said Dir. Burgos. 

Aside from the threat brought by COVID-19, the entire country is also confronted by another enemy, the widespread disinformation and misinformation about this pandemic, causing people to be anxious, to panic and to make wrong decisions that affect our lives negatively. 

Dir. Burgos emphasized that in addressing the issue of proliferating “fake news”, the DOST-STII, played a proactive role, not only in promoting the efforts and noble works of our Filipino scientists and researchers, but also providing the needed clarification and explanation at this critical time so that our audience would understand the crisis better and respond appropriately.

Virtual Pressers and Digital Broadcasting 

Director Burgos said that virtual pressers have become the new normal and tools for the Department to give the public up-to-date information about COVID-19. Since 30 April 2020, the DOST-STII has been broadcasting the weekly online news program “DOST Report” every Friday, 4:00 PM in DOSTv Facebook page. Anchored by DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, the secretary provides all the updates on the various efforts of the science department, from the area of research and development up to the technical services and consultancies.
Further, Dir. Burgos also said that the information institute organized special pressers for the launching of some of the major programs of DOST for repatriated overseas Filipino workers called the iFWD Program; online platform with mobile app; and Handa Pilipinas, a disaster resiliency campaign.

Incidentally, a mobile application called “DOST: Science for the People” was launched on 08 April 2020 to provide news updates about the agency’s efforts against COVID-19, S&T innovations and development programs that address major socio-economic problems of the country.

STARBOOKS: The first digital science library in a box 

STARBOOKS, popularly referred to as the library-in-a-box, is an award-winning knowledge and learning resource of the Institute that provides students and teachers with greater access to the latest science, technology, and innovation (STI) information to supplement textbooks and other learning tools. 

During the first semester of this year, Dir. Burgos shared that there were 320 STARBOOKS sites that were deployed all over the country, bringing the total to 4,800 since the program started in 2011. He also added that several partnerships have been formed by STARBOOKS with different organizations to promote STI. It includes the Department of Education, Philippine Rice Research Institute,, Unilab Foundation, TripplesPH, and Carl Balita Review Center. 

Increasing DOST’s online presence thru official Facebook pages

The information director also shared the significant spikes of two major Facebook pages of DOST. For DOST-Philippines, its page followers increased by 195% from August 2019 (7,541) to July 2020 (22,261). For DOST-Science and Technology Information Institute, its page followers increased by 77% from August 2019 (26,300) to July 2020 (46,600). 

#ScienceJournoAko webinars

Since 2015, the DOST-STII visited different schools in the country to bring its #ScienceJournoAko writeshop, an advocacy program aimed at capacitating aspiring journalists and communicators to write compelling S&T stories. Despite the prohibition in face-to-face training, the Institute brought this service through the digital world by conducting a series of webinars during the quarantine period. Dir. Burgos shared that the three webinars conducted by DOST-STII focused mainly on science blogging, harnessing the power of Twitter and Instagram, and popularizing science stories. All three webinars have gathered more than 300 participants composed of senior high school and college students as well as elementary and high school teachers nationwide, and even from abroad.

Gandingan Awards 

DOSTv: Science for the People, the broadcast platform of DOST-STII, that aired over PTV-4, recently won three (3) recognitions from the Gandingan Awards of the College of Development Communication, University of the Philippines Los Baños: 1) Most Development-Oriented Livelihood Program; 2) Most Development Oriented Feature Story for the episode “Bakery sa Jail” and; 3) the highest award Gandingan ng Kaunlaran: Most Development Oriented Radio/TV Station/Online Platform.

“The pandemic caught us by surprise but we quickly shifted to the new normal and became the channel for the world to feel the heartbeat, the vital signs of the DOST championing Science for the People. The winds of digital fate blew in our favor as our main sails, STARBOOKS, DOSTv, are digital native,” concluded Dir. Burgos. By: Allan Mauro V. Marfal, DOST-STII