361 COVID-19 patients in PH participating in WHO solidarity trial

At least 361 -19 patients in the Philippines are participating in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) solidarity trial to find treatment for the new coronavirus disease.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in his report to Congress on Monday, said that the patients are from 26 hospitals nationwide.

The government allocated P29.99 million for the one-year project, which will involve 500 patients in the Philippines.

The University of the Philippines’ National Institute of Health is leading the WHO solidarity trial in the country. It aims to determine the safety and effectiveness of possible therapies in treating the virus.

The treatments include standard care, remdesivir, malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, HIV drugs lopinavir/ritonavir, and lopanivir/ritonavir combined with interferon.

Duterte also reported that the government already hired additional 4,045 healthcare workers for -19 response.

The government approved 8,553 positions for emergency hiring in 286 health facilities such as hospitals, government-run quarantine facilities, temporary treatment, and monitoring facilities, diagnostic facilities, and primary health care facilities.

“The DOH [Department of Health] continues to temporarily redeploy nurses to DOH and LGU [local government unit] hospitals handling -19 cases, as well as for contact tracing and specimen collection/swabbing activities,” Duterte said.

“Public health associates have also been assigned to regional, provincial, and municipal health units for contact tracing and surveillance activities.”

Last week, President Duterte said the DOH identified the following “bottlenecks” in the hiring of healthcare workers:

  • low uptake/no takers for some positions (e.g., physicians)
  • some applicants have a private practice that they cannot compromise
  • some applicants have backed out due to various reasons (the distance of the facility from their residence, lack of reliable means of transportation, lack of halfway house/accommodation, concerns from family on possible -19 transmission in the household, poor perception on biosafety or lack of confidence in infection control protocols)
  • delays in screening due to the requirement of some RT-PCR testing facilities for its applicants (preference for those with experience working in the health sector)

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Meanwhile, Palace refuted World Health Organization’s (WHO) report that the Philippines has the fastest-growing coronavirus disease (-19) transmissions in the Western Pacific region.

“We beg to disagree. Siyempre po kung titignan natin ang pagtaas ng kaso, dapat in relation to your population,” said Roque.

According to him, the Philippines is still “winning” in its fight against COVID-19.

The Department of Health is the first to criticize the WHO data released because of the issue in population ratio versus case count.