By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte said he will lift the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) if an antibody against the coronavirus disease becomes available.
Duterte made the statement as he led a meeting of the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases late Monday night.
In his remarks, Duterte said he has read materials claiming that a pharmaceutical giant has developed an antibody against COVID-19 that may come out in the market next month.
“I placed the condition there na kung nandiyan na ‘yung antibody, available na sa market dito (if the antibody is already available here), and they are being sold in quantity, numbers, then maybe I am inclined to, maybe, at that time, lift the lockdown,” he said.
“Kung meron na ‘yan, tapos makita ko na ginagamit ng tao, ili-lift ko. Tutal kung magkasakit kayo, may antibodies naman tayo mabili. Ngayon kung wala ka mabili, problema mo na ‘yan kasi tapos na yung lockdown.”
(If it is already available and I see that people are using it, I will lift it. After all, there would be antibodies to buy in case you get sick. Now if you can’t buy any, that’s your problem because I’d have already lifted the lockdown then.)
Duterte, however, said the problem was the Philippines was on the last rung of the ladder and rich countries were already trying to get hold of the antibody. He, however, said the Philippines may be prioritized if China would catch up with other countries and develop their own antibody.
Despite this, President Duterte asked the public to continue cooperating with the government until the antibody reaches the Philippine market.
“Alam mo, ‘pag nagsama lang tayo, kaya natin ito. Kaunting panahon na lang. Alam ko igit na igit na kayo na maka — lumabas,” he said.
(If we just work together, we can overcome this. This won’t take long. I know you are itching to go out.)
“With my assurance that when the antibody has passed the medical tests, it’s ready to be sold by May. Kung makita ko nandiyan at magkaroon kayo ng (If I see that it’s there and we have the) supply, then I am ready to lift [the quarantine],” he added.
Luzon is under an enhanced community quarantine until April 30 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his report to Congress, President Duterte said the Department of Health (DOH) was exploring the possibility of including favipiravir (Avigan) in its clinical trials and was already identifying sources from Japan and China.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required manufacturers of all medicines that claim to treat COVID-19 to apply and comply with registration requirements. Until their products are proven safe and effective, they cannot be dispensed to the public and even therapeutic claims cannot be permitted.