By Eng’r Fortunato T. de la Peña, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology
NEW month, new challenges.
As we brace ourselves for what is to come in May, let us look at some of the major Covid-19 initiatives of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for the month of April:
April 4-10, 2020
1) Covid-19 Detection Kits — Following the FDA approval on April 3, the delivery of the locally developed GenAmplify Covid-19 rRT-PCR Detection Kit for 26,000 tests is ongoing. The Manila HealthTek Inc. is coordinating with recipient hospitals for the training of their personnel on the use of the said kit.
2) Data Analytics thru FASSTER – The DOST PCHRD-funded FASSTER Disease Modeling Project worked on data analytics and evidence-based models that were used by the IATF in their recommendation to extend the ECQ. Discussions are ongoing for the possible pilot testing of the self-report system in six cities of NCR including Marikina, Pasig, Muntinlupa, Pasay and Malabon.
3) Rapidpassph Launch – The RapidPass, which was developed under the DOST-DevCon partnership, was launched on April 3 and began registration on April 6. DOST-NCR personnel assisted in field testing RapidPass.
4) RxBox Deployment – RxBoxes deployed at Philippine General Hospital are undergoing testing. Training of health workers on their use is also ongoing. RxBox is a computer-based monitor of vital signs attached to each patient that minimizes the contact of health workers with Covid-19 patients and enables a higher patient per health worker ratio.
5) 5,000 per day Face Shields Production -The DOST MIRDC operationalized 5,000 per day production of face shields using injection molding technology in partnership with industry partners and with the help of donors for materials.
6) Quarantine Area at Philippine Science High School Main Campus – The PSHS Main campus gym was opened as quarantine area for PUIs and PUMs. Other buildings will accommodate health workers and employees of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center.
7) ICT Systems for Regions – The DOST Regional Offices have also developed ICT systems and online tools to ensure public service continuity and gather Covid-19 related data/information for decision-making.
8) Expert Advise – Scientists, academicians, researchers and DOST personnel were sought for and rendered expert advice and information on Covid-19 related actions and projects.
9) Livelihood Technologies Online – The DOST-ITDI has made available in their Facebook account and online viewing in YouTube, various e-learning materials and instructional videos on technologies that can provide livelihood opportunities to those who were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
10) DOST App – A Virtual Launch of the DOST App (Science at your Fingertips) was held on April 8 c/o DOST-Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII). The DOST app provides updates on Covid-19 R&D projects being implemented by Filipino scientists and other relevant information on science, technology and innovation.
April 11-17, 2020
1) DOST Supports Regional Training on Use of PCR Based Test Kits — As part of the field implementation, trainings on the use of the GenAmplify™ Covid-19 rRT PCR detection kits are being conducted.
2) DOST Allocates Php20M for DOH Specimen Collection Booths – The project will put up 132 units of specimen collection booths (SCB) per the request of the Department of Health (DOH) and conduct testing and data gathering. The DOST-PCHRD and DOST PCIEERD will fund the manufacturing, distribution and installation of the SCBs. The Futuristic Aviation and Maritime Enterprise (FAME), will be opening the design to others who wish to manufacture them, after the validation phase in the 3rd week of April.
3) DOST-ITDI and Nat’l Children’s Hospital Tests Respirator Venturi Valves — The DOST- ITDI has developed and delivered to the National Children’s Hospital two samples of respirator venturi valves for test fitting using their existing respirator. Also designed for testing is a modified oxygen concentrator mask with 3D printed filter for attachment to a commercially available nebulizer mask.
4) DOST Agencies, Regional Offices, PSHS Campuses Provide Covid-19 Emergency Response – Various donations consisting of at least 30,660 face shields; 7,257 face masks; 335 protective suits/gowns; 1,406 liters of alcohol; 11 drums of industrial chlorine; 19,000 liters of disinfectant solution; 2,500 vitamin C capsules were made. 100 boxes of ready-to-eat chicken arroz caldo from DOST-ITDI were given to Philippine National Police (PNP) Directorate of Logistics for distribution.
5) DOST Upgrades DOH Connectivity Through Its PREGINET — The DOST-ASTI negotiated with its telco partner, Eastern Telecoms (ETPI) to double DOH’s network capacity to 1000 Mbps to support its activities such as the use of multiple network-based communication platforms, data transfers, research, telemedicine, and other network-supported activities.
6) DOST Launches FASSSTER Covid-19 Disease Modelling Tool for Use in Regions, LGUs – Discussions with DOH and DOST-NCR are ongoing for possible pilot testing of the self-report system (i.e. Tanod Covid).
7) DOST, DICT, PNP, DEVCON Adopts Rapid Pass.Ph in fifteen (15) NCR Checkpoints – DOST– National Capital Region personnel were engaged in the deployment of the system to 15 NCR checkpoints.
8) DOST Grants 3 Months Payment Deferment to about 3,000 MSME Technology Upgrading Beneficiaries starting May 2020 — An additional 3-month grace period in rental payment under the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) is approved to help MSMEs cope up with the losses they have incurred.
SCHOLARS, SCIENTISTS vs. COVID-19
9) 400 DOST Scholars Volunteer for Covid-19 Services to Agencies, Organizations Including RITM — DOST-SEI scholars nationwide are providing various services through their volunteer works. A group of DOST-SEI scholars also founded Project HERO which initiated a campaign called #FeedPHBabies which aims to provide “baby-friendly” relief goods for 4-24 month-babies affected by ECQ.
10) The National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST PHL) Continues to Provide Expert Advice. — Our scientists continue to provide expert advice in the formulation of programs, courses of action and recommendations on various concerns arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.
April 18-24, 2020
1) Deployment of 15 Additional Specimen Collection Booths (SCB) – With the favorable results obtained from the field evaluation of four (4) SCB units, 15 additional units were already completed by Futuristic Aviation and Maritime Enterprise (FAME), the partner start-up company for deployment to selected testing laboratories and hospitals nationwide. DOST provided Php20-million funding to the project.
2) Deployment of PCR machines — Out of the 12 PCR machines matched to hospitals/testing centers, the DOST deployed two (2) PCR machines to Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and another one to the San Lazaro Hospital to increase their capacities for Covid-19 testing. These machines came from DOST agencies or were borrowed from DOST-funded projects.
3) Coordination with other partner-agencies in the deployment of FASSSTER and TanodCOVID – Some DOST Regional Directors have already briefed their respective Regional IATF (for Covid-19) and Regional Development Councils. Through the efforts of DOST-NCR, the LGUs of Malabon and Mandaluyong have already submitted their letter of intent to adopt/use the TanodCOVID system.
4) Clinical Testing of VCO for Covid-19 – After getting Ethics Board approval, DOST will now start the clinical trials to test the efficacy of virgin coconut oil (VCO) on improving the condition of confirmed and probable Covid-19 patients.
5. DOST Project Approval of the Philippine participation in World Health Organization (WHO) SOLIDARITY Trials — The DOST has approved and allocated funds for the project that would allow UP Manila and 22 cooperating hospitals to participate in a multi-center trial that will provide data on the efficacy of candidate anti-viral drugs to Filipino populations infected with Covid-19.
6) Non-Contact Thermal Scanners – The DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI) is developing a non-contact thermal scanner with medical-grade sensor that can be attached to mobile phones for temperature monitoring at control points.
7) DOST-NRCP (Research Pod) Social Research on Feelings and Responses to Pandemic — The DOST-NRCP is conducting a study on “Emotions, Feelings and Behaviors during the Covid-19 Pandemic” to see how people feel and respond to the pandemic.
8) Distribution of Fresh Produce and Seeds – PCAARRD-DOST-assisted agriculture-based Technology Business Incubators (TBIs) and Regional R&D consortia distributed agri-based products such as fruits, vegetables, duck eggs, slaughtered native chickens and seeds to households, front-liners and farmers in rural communities. The DOST-CAR in coordination with the Tublay Municipal Agriculture Office assisted 80 farmers in Benguet in selling their vegetables (1,250 packs at 5kgs each) to buyers from Quezon City.
9) DOST Scholar-Volunteers now at 728 – To date, 728 Science Education Institute – Department of Science and Technology (DOST-SEI) scholars are doing volunteer works in different parts of the country performing various tasks such as data gathering or validation, developing online tracking mechanisms, assisting in relief operations and production of emergency supplies.
10) Project Ramdam (Relief Allocation Management, Distribution, and Monitoring) – The DOST CALABARZON facilitated the use of Project RAMDAM App, developed by a startup with DOST-PCIEERD funding, during actual relief operations in two barangays in Los Baños (Brgy. San Antonio and Brgy. Batong Malake). The main feature of this app is for relief distribution and feedback monitoring process. The regional office also coordinated with the Sta. Rosa and Cabuyao LGUs for the pilot-testing of the RAMDAM App in selected barangays in these two cities. (DOST/SFTP)