PH mulls over joining WHO’s ‘Solidarity Trial’ for COVID-19 cure

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 30 2020 02:04 PM

MANILA — The Department of Health on Monday said it would study whether the country will participate in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) multi-country clinical study for possible treatments for COVID-19.

“This is being offered by the WHO,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during the televised Laging Handa briefing.

“We’ll study if the government will join,” she added.

The so-called “Solidarity Trial” is the WHO’s rapid global search for drugs that can treat the new coronavirus that has infected more than 700,000 people around the world as of Monday, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus dashboard.

Among the countries that will participate are Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and Thailand. The WHO said 45 countries are contributing to the trial and more have expressed interest.

According to a WHO release, the clinical trial will test four different drugs or combinations — “remdesivir, a combination of two drugs, lopinavir and ritonavir, the two drugs plus interferon beta, and chloroquine – and will compare their effectiveness to what is called standard of care — the regular support hospitals treating COVID-19 patients use now.”

Over the weekend, the WHO said the first batch of patients have been enrolled in the program.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom called it a “historical trial which will dramatically cut the time needed to generate robust evidence about what drugs work.”

PH USING CHLOROQUINE, OTHER DRUGS

Vergeire also said that the DOH already allowed the use of off-label drugs, or drugs produced for another purpose, for the treatment of COVID-19.

She said one of these is chloroquine, which was made to treat malaria.

“Ang ating payo sa ating mga kababayan, hindi po ito ginagamit for prophylaxis. Hindi gagamitin para ma-prevent,” she said, adding that people should not try and buy it from a pharmacy to take for precaution.

She said such drugs are only used in hospitals by doctors.