Throughout the ongoing history of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines, one of the voices that have urged caution in present and future policy and regulation by the government the address the crisis has belonged to the OCTA Research Group. Even when the COVID situation seems to be looking optimistic in terms of lesser new cases or quarantine relaxation, OCTA has become famous somewhat for taking a contrarian position, warning of upright trends and “super spreader” events. Now, while the governments national and local plus private business await the arrival of the COVID vaccines they have purchased, a fellow from the OCTA Research team announced a possible alternative medical means.
For people who have always been queasy about vaccinations, particularly those who are afraid of being stuck with needles, OCTA Research molecular biologist Fr. Nicanor Austriaco revealed that he is working on a COVID vaccine that could be administered orally. As CNN Philippines tells it, Austriaco has been studying a vaccine development method involving yeast to creative a less expensive choice for people looking for protection from COVID infection. In a statement this Sunday, February 7, Austriaco told of engineering human probiotic yeast to express fragments of SARS-COVID 2 virus.
“Our hope is that we will be able to take this yeast and we will be able to use the yeast to be able to stimulate the immune response, the protective response of the body, for Filipinos and other third world developing countries,” says Austriaco, adding that he will be in the US to commence experimentation for several weeks to test the feasibility of engineering an oral COVID vaccine from yeast. If successful, he plans to return to the Philippines to petition the government for permission to conduct clinical trials.
Fr. Austriaco, an associate of the OCTA Research group, also commented on the current status of the country in terms of its response to the COVID pandemic. He notes that the sooner vaccines arrive and the faster Filipinos receive them, the more significant the changes in new cases, recoveries and deaths will be recorded. He cites as an example Israel, which saw changes in case statistics after about 25% of their population got COVID vaccines. At present, only the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines have received emergency use approval, while tests are still coming for the Janssen, Clover and Sinovac vaccines.
Image from Outbreak News Today