Unchartered frontier: Vaccine Biotechnology, the equalizer in the fight against emerging agricultural and public health challenges in the Philippines

Author(s): Ronilo Jose Danila Flores

COVID-19 and African Swine Fever (ASF) are two of the most important, ongoing public health and agricultural challenges in the Philippines that pose a tremendous impact on health and food security. The impacts of these two health emergencies are further exacerbated by the lack of a national-scale vaccine development program which delimited the country’s response to efforts on current non-vaccine strategies. The relatively slow pace by which imported COVID19 vaccines are rolled out and the absence of available vaccines for ASF, among other reasons, has resulted in a continuous rise of the total cases of both COVID-19 and ASF. The exigency of the situation necessitates a vaccine development program that will work alongside other risk mitigation strategies to address these current problems and leverage the Philippines against future public and agricultural health emergencies such as COVID-19 and ASF. This paper scopes the various initiatives of the government, research, civic society, and industrial sectors over the course of these two current health emergencies and discusses the ways forward toward the institutionalization and operationalization of a national vaccine biotechnology program in the Philippines.

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