Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire announced the delay in the clinical trials for the Avigan anti-flu drug during an online media forum.
Originally, the trials were scheduled to begin on August 17 but the health department said there were still processes that are not yet completed so the date was pushed back to September 1.
The undersecretary explained: “Ang Avigan trials natin hindi pa siya nag-uumpisa. Supposedly it was set to start last August 17 but there had been a lot of processes na hindi pa natatapos,”
According to Vergeire, three out of the four participating hospitals are still getting the approval of their ethics committee for the Avigan trials and only the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) was able to secure the approval.
The other participating health institutions were the Sta. Ana Hospital, Dr. Jose M. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, and Quirino Memorial Medical Center.
Also, the DOH has yet to finalize the clinical trial agreement.
Vergeire said: “So ito ‘yung dalawang inaantay natin para tayo ay makapag umpisa nitong Avigan trials. Once all of these have been processed or have been approved, we will already start.”
Reports show that Avigan yielded positive results in the treatment of COVID-19 patients in China, particularly those with mild symptoms. The Philippine government has set aside at least P18 million for the Avigan trials.
Aside from this, the Philippines is also participating in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) solidarity trial which tests Remdesivir and interferon against the novel coronavirus that has already infected nearly 190,000 people nationwide.
Vergeire said there are currently 932 patients enrolled in WHO’s solidarity trials in the country.
As of Tuesday, the country has recorded 224,264 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 158,012 recoveries and 3,597 deaths.