Philippines expands Avigan trial to include more COVID-19 patients

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 14 2020 09:10 PM | Updated as of Dec 14 2020 09:33 PM

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MANILA — The Department of Health on Monday said it had to tweak the protocol of the Avigan clinical trial against COVID-19 in the country to get more participants.

The anti-flu drug Avigan is among the off-label drugs being studied as possible treatment for the new coronavirus disease. As of December 7, the study had a total of 16 participants.

“Yung Avigan protocol kasi dati targeted those requiring oxygenation, nasa ospital, those with moderate symptoms to severe symptoms,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.

(The Avigan protocol originally targeted those requiring oxygenation, those in the hospital, those with moderate symptoms to severe symptoms.)

However, Vergeire said that because of the lower number of patients in hospitals, they had difficulty recruiting participants.

She said it also competed with the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial in recruiting COVID-19 patients as trial subjects.

Avigan’s study proponents, upon consultation with experts, decided to include even those not needing oxygen or ventilators, Vergeire said. She said this will allow more people to test Avigan and for the researchers to observe the drug’s effects.

Of the 16 total participants for the trial, 9 are active participants, 5 have already completed, and 2 withdrew from the study.

Vergeire said enrollment of patients from hospitals is ongoing since they are targeting more than 100 participants.

Participating in the study are the Philippine General Hospital, Sta. Ana Hospital, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, and Quirino Memorial Medical Center.

The Philippines has recorded 450,733 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Dec. 14.

Of the 23,253 active infections, 5.9% are in critical condition, 3% have severe symptoms, 0.32% have moderate symptoms, while 85.1% have mild symptoms and 5.7% are asymptomatic.