The Philippines started clinical trials for Japanese anti-flu drug Avigan to determine if it could help treat COVID-19 patients, Japan's news wire Kyodo reported. This will widen potential treatments for the disease that has infected over 100,000 Filipinos and plunged a quarter of the population in a fresh lockdown.
Clinical trials are also underway for anti-Ebola drug remdesivir and the anti-viral interferon, according to the report. These are different from upcoming clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine, for which the Philippines is pursuing several possible sources. President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that with China's help, a vaccine could be available by the end of the year and would be free for 20 million people.
Health Usec. Rosario Vergeire did not immediately return a text message from reportr seeking comment on the Kyodo report. Last week, she said the Philippines received some 199,000 Avigan tablets for the clinical trials. Manufactured by Japan's Fujifilm Holdings Corp, Avigan has the generic name favipiravir.
Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite were on Monday placed under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine, the second strictest in the country's four-step classification system. It will last until Aug. 18, during which the government will recalibrate its pandemic fighting strategy.
It took a distress call from health frontliners over the weekend for Duterte to restore the MECQ. Doctors, nurses and hospital workers warned that fast-rising cases risked overwhelming the system.