Avigan trial for COVID-19 patients begins in Philippines

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 25 2020 02:42 PM

A pharmacist from Sta. Ana Hospital in Manila on August 8, 2020 shows the anti-flu drug Favipiravir (brand name Avigan) donated by Japan which will be used to treat severe cases of the new coronavirus. Philippine authorities are gearing up to test Avigan for clinical trials as a potential treatment for COVID-19. ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The anti-influenza drug Avigan from Japan is already being tested in the Philippines for its effectivity against COVID-19, a health official said Wednesday.

“For Avigan trial, nag-umpisa tayo (we started) noong November 20 and we already have 8 participants,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual press briefing.

Avigan, the Japanese brand for favipiravir, previously showed promising results in treating COVID-19 vaccines. Tablets were sent to the Philippines by Japan for clinical trial purposes, but the trials were repeatedly delayed because of some documentary requirements.

Vergeire said 3 patients are enrolled at the Philippine General Hospital, 3 at Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital (formerly Tala Leprosarium), and 2 at Quirino Memorial Medical Center (formerly Labor hospital).

Sta. Ana Hospital has yet to recruit new patients.

The health official said the proponent of the study set up less stringent criteria to inlcude more patients. The sample size of the study increased from 96 to 144.

Those who can join the study are COVID-19 patients with non-severe pneumonia and not on “high flow oxygen support.”

Vergeire says they hope that the hospitals will reach the target sample size soon to complete the trial.

The cumulative total of recorded COVID-19 cases in the country climbed to 421,722 on Tuesday, Nov. 25, of which, 6.3% or 26,745 are active infections.

Total recoveries stood at 386,792, and the death toll, 8,185.

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