Malacañang on Friday denied it was merely awaiting development of a Covid-19 vaccine, as government scientists are also “working diligently” to find local treatments for Covid-19 patients.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque said the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) had approved clinical trials for lagundi and tawa-tawa as supplement Covid-19 treatments.

Since June, the DOST has been conducting studies on natural products including lagundi as an adjuvant therapeutic, virgin coconut oil, lagundi and tawa-tawa.

The effects of melatonin and convalescent plasma are also being studied.

Roque said the studies accompany the government’s “information, education and communication campaign” on the use of face masks and face shields as part of “preventive efforts to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.”

Netizens recently mocked the government’s anti-Covid efforts, saying that while other countries had reached Phases 2 and 3 of clinical trials, the country was stuck with “Phase shields.”

As part of the World Health Organization’s solidarity trials for Covid-19 treatment, Roque said the country was in touch with international institutions to collaborate on vaccine development and allow local manufacturing.

“Our concern… also involves long-term plans,” he said. “President Rodrigo Duterte is now reviewing the recommendation to establish a Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines that will serve as a premiere research institute in virology and diseases to strengthen local vaccine development in the country,” he said.

In May, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases backed DOST’s plan to establish the Virology S&T Institute in New Clark City.

The reactivation of the Pharmaceutical Development Unit at DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute as a “Tuklas Lunas Center for Pharmaceuticals Development” was also being eyed.John Ezekiel J. Hirro