By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
The Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases warned the public against using drugs or vaccines with unproven claims that they could cure the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Cabinet Secretary and IATF spokesman Karlo Nograles made the statement following reports that there was a clamor for the use of the Fabunan Antiviral Injections to cure the disease.
In his virtual presser, Nograles asked the public to not experiment with any drug not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Health (DOH), or the World Health Organization (WHO) for their own safety.
“Kung hindi po siya approved ng FDA at ng Department of Health, ‘wag po tayo mag-eksperimento ng mga gamot na hindi naman po natin alam at wala naman po tayong kasiguraduhan sa kanyang bisa (If it’s not approved by the FDA and the DOH, let’s not experiment with medicines that we have no idea what their effects would be),” he said on Easter Sunday.
“Kung ito ba ay talagang nakakagamot o nakakasama pa sa katawan, hindi po natin alam (We don’t know if it would cure us or just make things worse),” he added.
The FDA last week said there were no registered drugs or vaccines licensed specifically for COVID-19 treatment or prevention.
The agency, however, said there were “ongoing clinical trials” to test the effectiveness and safety of existing drugs against COVID-19.
“The World Health Organization (WHO) recently launched the Solidarity Trial, a large-scale clinical trial participated [in] by many countries (including the Philippines), which aims to identify evidence-based treatment regimen for COVID-19,” the FDA said.
Firms and retailers of unlicensed treatment regimens like the Fabunan Antiviral Injections were informed that they needed to register their products with the FDA Center for Drug Regulation and Research.
“No applications for product registration have been filed to date. Until such products are proven safe and effective for use in the treatment of COVID-19, they cannot be dispensed to the public nor can therapeutic claims be made,” the agency said.
While there was no vaccine nor cure developed yet for the disease, President Duterte joined the Philippine General Hospital in calling on COVID-19 survivors to donate blood for the hospital’s experimental treatment for patients with severe symptoms of the disease.
“Mag mabuting-loob kayo. And I think kung ako (Please volunteer. If I were a survivor), I should volunteer. That is the way of thanking God that you have survived,” Duterte said.
“Magpakuha kayo kasi ‘yun ang dugo ninyo — ‘yung plasma ninyo ‘yun ang i-inject doon sa mga tinamaan. So ‘yung katawan mo makukuha niya ‘yon — ‘yung dugo na kapatid mo na Pilipino, makukuha niya ‘yan (Donate your blood because your plasma will be used to treat your fellow Filipinos who are infected),” he added.
The WHO earlier said that convalescent plasma had been “effective and life-saving” against disease as it mops up the virus in the system, and gives the new patient’s immune system a vital push at the time it needs it.
It was reported last week that two elderly South Korean COVID-19 patients recovered from severe pneumonia after being treated with plasma from survivors.