DOH: Solidarity Trial of hydroxychloroquine continues; says WHO stopped only new allocations for drug use

By Analou De Vera

The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday clarified that patients who were already given the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, in the ongoing Solidarity Trial of the World Health Organization, will still continue to undergo the said treatment scheme, a day after it announced that they will stop using the said drug.

Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN) Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire

"Doon po sa hydroxychloroquine na sinabi din ng mga expert group ng WHO kahapon, yung pong nakapag umpisa na with the trial --will continue to finish their doses ," said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“So ang lilinawin po natin, ang itinigil po at ang ibinigay na rekomendasyon ng WHO expert group is to stop the new allocations for patients. But for those already undergoing the treatment they can still continue,” she added.

To note, the WHO said that it is temporarily stopping the clinical trial for hydroxychloroquine as possible treatment for COVID-19 due to safety concerns. On Tuesday, the Health official said that they will stop using the said anti- malarial drug in the Solidarity Trial in the country.

With this, Vergeire said that the attending physician should monitor the condition of patients for possible adverse effects.

“Kailangan may close monitoring for adverse events ang ating mga physicians who are overseeing this treatment regimen at kung saka-sakali--it has to be stopped pag meron silang makikitang ganoon na event sa isang pasyente. ,” said Vergeire.

Vaccine development for COVID-19

In a related development, Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV) Director Lulu Bravo said that it is unlikely that the vaccine for the dreaded disease will be discovered in a year.

“We cannot say that in one year or two years we will have the vaccine. It really depends so much on what will happen next,” said Bravo in a press briefing.

Bravo made an example of the vaccine development for malaria as well as for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

“You know, the malaria vaccine has been (under development) for more than 100 years now and still we don't have the vaccine. The HIV vaccine, how many years has it been under development--more than 40 years, and we still don't have the vaccine,” said Bravo.

Meanwhile, Vergeire noted that there are 110 candidate vaccines for COVID-19 that are being developed worldwide.

“For vaccine development, the objective of the government is to easily access vaccines in the shortest time possible. We are trying to coordinate with the different international companies right now for that,” she said.

The Health official also noted that the country is keen to participate in the upcoming Solidarity Trial of WHO for vaccines. “The Philippines is still trying to position to get into this trial,” she said.