President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expressed his desire to receive support from the US to establish the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines (VVIP), which he has identified as a priority.

During a forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the president suggested that both countries collaborate on training technicians and specialists and providing post-graduate scholarships.

“Building on our science, technology, and innovation engagements, we hope to work with the US in establishing the (VVIP),” Marcos Jr. said.

“We can jointly work on the training of technicians and specialists including post-graduate education scholarships; providing necessary equipment and implements for the VVIP; and establishing what is envisioned to be the first Bio-Safety Level 4 Laboratory in the country,” he added.

Last year, Marcos announced his consultation with Congress to pass bills creating the VVIP and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading in December the bill establishing the VVIP.

Marcos Jr. has also expressed willingness to welcome pharmaceutical companies to designate the Philippines as a base for their vaccine manufacturing and distribution.

The Palace earlier said pharmaceutical and biotechnology company Moderna would build a vaccine-making facility in the Philippines, which would serve the entire Asia-Pacific region.

According to Marcos Jr., the project would be the initial investment by Moderna in the Philippines and Asia, and it would make a significant contribution to the country’s healthcare advancement.

“The opportunity to build shared services in areas of interest, connecting with the scientific, academic opportunity with Moderna, the ministry of health is something that we’re very, very interested in. The most important part is that we sat down and drew the program, and say this is how we approach the problem. Those are the kind of skills that we need,” he said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro