On 28 July 2021, the House of Representatives passed on the third and final reading House Bill 9559 proposing the creation of the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines or VIP.
To be under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), it is envisioned to become "the premier research and development institute in the field of virology, encompassing all areas in viruses and viral diseases in humans, plants, and animals.” The institute will also be tasked to conduct product research for diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.
Optimistic that the bill will be soon signed into law, the Department is now making preparations for the Institute, including the launching on 21 October 2021 (tentative date) a new laboratory with biosafety level 2+ or a BSL-2+ Laboratory.
A BSL-2+ Laboratory works on microorganisms that pose moderate hazards to laboratory staff and the environment. The biological material used in a BSL-2 laboratory consists of bacteria, viruses, and organisms associated with human diseases.
To be established in the Environment and Biotechnology Division of the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI), this new laboratory with project cost of P5,097,306.85 will be adhering to the appropriate biosafety and biosecurity protocols as mandated by international standards. With this new BSL-2 laboratory, the initial projects of the VIP program will be implemented safely and securely.
The Biosafety Level 2+ Laboratory is also among the 21 technologies and innovative R&D projects dubbed as Big 21 in 2021 to be launched on 07 September 2021 at 10:00AM via Zoom and will be broadcast live at the DOST Philippines Facebook page. (By Rosemarie C. Señora, DOST-STII)