The Department of Health announced this Thursday that an initial 500 patients from the Philippines will be participating in the World Health Organization’s multi-country study approach to finding a COVID-19 cure.
The WHO’s Solidarity Trial will be testing the effectivity of multiple off-label drugs against COVID-19 across several countries. Over 100 countries have committed to the WHO clinical trials as of this week.
The drugs to be used in the trial are (1) remdesivir, (2) lopinavir and ritonavir combined, (3) two drugs plus interferon beta, and (4) chloroquine.
These drugs were all made to treat other diseases such as Ebola or malaria. Since it may take several months or years to develop a drug specifically for COVID-19, experts have chosen to test existing drugs as treatment for the new strain of coronavirus.
“Initially, 500 patients ang kasama natin sa trial na ito [are included in this trial] to happen in 20 hospitals here in the Philippines,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a video conference.
“Mayroon tayo sa iba’t ibang lugar sa Pilipinas na napiling ospital hindi lang dito sa Metro Manila,” she added.
[We have chosen hospitals from different areas in the Philippines, not just in Metro Manila.]
The hospitals participating in the trial are The Medical City, San Lazaro Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Baguio General Hospital, East Avenue Medical Center, Makati Medica Center, St. Lukes Medical Center Global, St. Lukes Medical Center Quezon City, University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Manila Doctors Hospital, Manila Medical Center, Chinese General Hospital, San Juan de Dios Medical Center, Diliman Doctors Hospital, University of Santo Tomas Hospital, Vicente Sotto Medical Center, Southern Phil Medical Center, and World Citi Medical Center.
Vergeire assured that the country’s ethics board have approved participation in the trial. The necessary documents have similarly been sent to the WHO, who will then ship the drugs to be used in the trials.
“Pero may mga plano na tayo habang wala pa ang shipment ng gamot maaari nang mag-umpisa, baka sakali sana ‘pag naayos na ang mga dokumento, makapag-umpisa bukas ang ating proponent ng kanilang trial nga,” she said.
[We have plans to start even if the shipment is not yet here. If the documents are in order then our proponents can start the trial tomorrow.]
Vergeire mentioned that hospitals may use the country’s current stock of these off-label drugs while waiting for the WHO shipment.
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