MANILA — The Department of Health on Thursday said the country has started participating in the World Health Organization’s clinical trials in search of a COVID-19 cure.
“DOH, in cooperation with the WHO and our various partner hospitals, has already started the Solidarity Trial. Enrollment of patients is ongoing,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in response to media.
“The shipment of remdesivir has already arrived in the country and is being distributed to the study sites, while hydroxychloroquine and ritonavir-lopinavir have been distributed from donations and available supplies from the malaria and HIV programs of the DOH.”
The said drugs were originally made for other diseases but are being tested for their efficacy against the COVID-19 virus.
The WHO sent remdesivir, an antiviral drug made for Ebola, to the Philippines as part of the multi-country study.
“There has been some early evidence suggesting that this medication may reduce the duration of illness for COVID-19. It received US FDA Emergency Use Authorization last 1 May 2020,” Vergeire said of remdesivir.
Of the 24 research sites in the Philippines that are participating in the clinical trials, 8 are already enrolling patients, she said.
“Forty patients are currently enrolled as of this week and they have been allocated to the different treatment groups,” Vergeire said.
The DOH earlier said that the country will enroll at least 500 COVID-19 patients to allow them to try the different drugs that are believed to have some positive effect against the virus.
Meanwhile, the country is expecting to receive 12,200 tables of of favipiravir (Avigan) from Japan for another international clinical trial.
“We are coordinating with counterparts in the Japanese government regarding supply of these medications,” Vergeire said.