Dr. Paciente Cordero

A yeast-based oral vaccine against COVID-19 receives funding from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). Herein labeled as an ambitious research and Development (R & D) project, will be bankrolled by DOST through through the Philippine Council for health Research and Development, with a total budget of P4.4-million.

The R & D project conceptualized by the University of Santo Tomas-based (UST) research team on COVID vaccine will be headed by Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, an active priest-scientist, who returned to the Philippines under the DOST Balik-Scientist program. He is a visiting professor and teaches biological sciences subjects at the UST Graduate School.

In a capsule, the DOST-funded ‘ambitious R & D project “. . . seeks to tap Saccharomyces boulardii, a probiotice yeast that has already been approved for human consumption worldwide, as a vaccine delivery system mean to induce a person’s immune response.” According, the yeast S. boulardii is inexpensive and will translate into significant savings for the project and the country as a whole.

This UST-led R & D project aims “to develop an inexpensive vaccine that is shelf-stable at room temperature for easy storage and orally self-administered without the use of needles, syringe or health-care workers.” Further, the research team shall explore oral vaccine candidates’ efficacy using animals as models. Finally, results of the project could serve as reference in developing vaccines for other infectious diseases entering or are already in the country.

This oral vaccine project may have come in late in the day, but I strongly support for its sustained funding. Who knows that the Philippines could be focal country for a ‘revolutionized vaccination program’ of the world and supplier of future COVID -19 oral vaccines!
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