This year the UPLB COVID-19 Response Team under the Mathematics Division, Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Physics was given one of the first-ever Gawad Edukampyon for Responsive Research and Development awards during the Gawad Edukampyon 2021 virtual awarding ceremony last 25 October 2021.

REX Education and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) launched Gawad Edukampyon on the 30th of January, 2021. Together with Philippine Business and Social Progress (PBSP), this inaugural award aimed to recognize higher education institutions (HEIs) in the Philippines that showed initiative and resilience of the Philippine higher education system in the “new normal” during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Gawad Edukampyon 2021 has four categories. The Gawad Edukampyon for Excellence in Flexible and Responsive Management was awarded to HEIs with outstanding management response to the continuity of education for its students amidst the pandemic while ensuring the health and safety of its stakeholders. The Gawad Edukampyon for Excellence in Flexible Teaching and Learning Innovation was awarded to HEIs with exemplary innovative and adaptive learning approaches and solutions wherein students are still constantly motivated during these times. The Gawad Edukampyon for Responsive Research and Development was awarded to the HEIs with outstanding research and development that significantly contributed to mitigating the effects of COVID-19 or has led to a greater understanding of its causes and effects. Lastly, the Gawad Edukampyon for Public Service and Community Engagement was awarded to outstanding outreach projects alleviating COVID-19 challenges of the community.

At the start of the pandemic, UPLB COVID-19 Response Team initiated several research projects that will aid in understanding COVID-19. One of these projects is entitled Modeling/Simulation of the Effect of Different Interventions on the Spread of SARS-COV-2 Virus in Different Demographic Scales. The goal of this research study is to describe COVID-19 transmission dynamics and provide recommendations based on simulations. The study can be also utilized in helping the government in their policy-making and control measures during the pandemic. Three publications were produced from this project between March 2020 and March 2021 : (i) A mathematical model of COVID-19 transmission between frontliners and the general public, (ii) A COVID-19 infection risk model for frontline health care workers, and (iii) Optimal Allocation of COVID-19 Test Kits Among Accredited Testing Centers in the Philippines. Moreover, two epidemic web-based decision tools and a repository of COVID-19 studies were also created from this project: (i) Initial COVID-19 Philippine Provincial Estimates and Projections and (ii) Job Risk Profiling Calculator, Workplace Outbreak Microsimulator & Event R Calculator. These publications and tools are regularly updated and can be accessed freely. These studies also became the basis of several policy notes implemented by the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response team that safeguard its stakeholders from the virus.

Other projects were also incepted by the team during the pandemic. The project entitled Gender-specific Insights Based on COVID-19 Epidemiological and Socio-economic Data, provided an online interactive dashboard, showing gender-specific insights related to COVID-19, that can be used for academic or policy-making purposes. Forecasting COVID-19 cases in the Philippines using various mathematical models is another project that aimed to forecast the COVID-19 infection cases using various mathematical models and compare the forecasts from the models using several error metrics. The UNFPA Project – Mathematical Modelling Study on COVID-19 determined the epidemic curve for each of the chosen areas that aid the local government in policy-making. The projects of the team were mostly funded by the UP system and other institutions like the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) and the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA).

The UPLB COVID-19 Response Team continues its effort through different research in helping against the fight with the COVID-19 pandemic.

(GB Gamilla)