Pharma companies to develop drugs based on COVID-19 variant

Maris Federez   •   December 3, 2021   •   274

MANILA, Philippines — Pharmaceutical companies are looking into developing drugs specific to each COVID-19 variant.

Health experts involved in the clinical trial of molnupiravir in the country said the oral anti-viral pill can help  fight the Omicron variant.

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, stressed the need for extensive studies to check on the efficacy of the anti-viral pill against COVID-19.

Based on data collected in the previous clinical trial results, molnupiravir is able to prevent the condition of patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 symptoms from getting worse.

The Philippines is one of the countries that participated in the global clinical trial of molnupiravir.

According to medical experts and clinical investigators in the country, molnupiravir can help destroy COVID-19 variants of concern like the heavily mutated Omicron.

“The game changer of this pandemic or any other pandemic or any other disease in the world will always be the treatment. Kasi kapag may gamot, mas madaling i-address iyong problemang iyon,” said Dr. Benjamin Co, clinical investigator from the Asian Hospital Medical Center.

“You’re able to diagnose patients early, you are able to treat them even if they are breakthrough infections, and you are able to see patients who are exposed to those index cases,” he added.

“The mutant strains would still respond kasi doon sa core or inner mechanism nagwo-work iyong molnupiravir and not sa surface or sa superficial na spike proteins niya,” said Dr. Joel Santiaguel, clinical investigator from the Quirino Memorial Medical Center.

“Kahit magka-variation na mutation, may changes doon sa spike protein. Active pa rin ang molnupirvir mo against the virus,” he added.

The FDA also said that even the investigational drugs against COVID-19 that are currently being used are able to give relief to patients.

Nevertheless, the FDA underscored the need for in-depth studies to prove the efficacy of the new anti-COVID-19 drugs.

“Iyong mga gamot for severe COVID katulad ng mga steroid, katulad ng tocilizumab, baricitinib kapag severe case, aandar pa rin iyan sa dito sa Omicron,” FDA director-general Usec. Eric Domingo said.

“Pero hindi pa natin sigurado ang ibang gamot, itong monoclonal antibodies at mga antiviral, iyong mga bago kung magwo- work sila, as well,” the FDA chief added.

Clinical investigators invite volunteers for the one-month Phase-3 of the clinical trial for molnupiravir in the Philippines.

They must be 18 years old or older, unvaccinated, and with exposure to a COVID-19 positive person or to an Index Case.

Index cases are mostly economic or medical frontliners who expose family members when they go home.

The clinical trials will check the efficacy of molnupiravir against the Omicron variant.

Blood specimens will be collected from the participants to check the variant that an individual possesses and the effect of molnupiravir on them.

“Genotyping is very important so that we know what the variant of the individual is. Remember when this clinical trial was rolled out, the variants of concern were already rolling out in the world – si Gamma, si Beta, si Alpha, si Delta,” Dr. Co said.

“And that’s the reason why you can see how successful this drug is in addressing the concern of whether it will work or it will not work with SARS- COV2 infection. So far, ang datos po shows that it is very good drug,” he added. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

“No vax, no ride” policy sa NCR, epektibo lang sa ilalim ng COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Malakanyang

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Nilinaw ng Malakanyang na iiral lamang ang “no vaccination, no ride” policy sa mga pampublikong transportasyon sa National Capital Region (NCR) kapag nakataas ang COVID-19 Alert Level 3.

Ginawa ni Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles ang pahayag kasunod ng pagkwestiyon ng Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) sa polisiya na anila’y isang uri ng diskriminasyon.

Ayon kay TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay, labag ang polisiya sa Republic Act 11525 na nagbabawal sa mandatory requirement ng vaccination card sa trabaho, empleyo, at sa mga transaksyon sa government offices, at serbisyo gaya ng public transportation.

Ito ay anti-poor at dapat maging patas ang gobyerno sa pagpapatupad ng polisiyang ito dahil kahit iyong mga ordinaryong rank and file na manggagawa ay mulat doon sa batas, mulat doon sa karapatan lalong lalo na ang freedom of choice. Mayroon silang karapatan kung ano ang mas makakabuti sa kanilang kalusugan para sa kanilang katawan,” ani Tanjusay.

Ngunit ayon kay Nograles, nakabatay sa mga ordinansa ng mga lokal na pamahalaan sa NCR ang pagpapatupad ng “no vaccination, no ride” policy ng Department of Transportation.

Ganito rin ang pahayag ni DOTr Undesecretary Artemio Tuazon at iginiit na malinaw naman ang panuntunan ng polisiya na hindi na ito ipatutupad kapag ibinaba sa Alert Level 2 ang NCR.

“Ang no vax, no ride policy under Department Order 2022-01 ay valid lang po sa loob ng NCR. Linawin ko lang po yun, yun po ay para sa NCR, dito lang po. At valid lang po yun, habang ang NCR ay nasa Alert Level 3, or mas mataas,” ani Tuazon.

“Kapag bumaba po ang ating alert level dito, masususpinde na po yung polisiya,” dagdag pa niya.

Nasa ilalim ng Alert Level 3 ang NCR hanggang sa Enero 31.

Sa weekend, inaasahang iaanunsyo ng Inter-Agency Task Force ang alert level status na paiiralin sa NCR para sa buwan ng Pebrero.

Palace welcomes survey showing drop in COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among Filipinos

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday welcomed a survey that showed a drop in COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among Filipinos.

In a statement, acting presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the latest survey results mean that the government’s pandemic response is “a step towards the right direction” to restore normalcy.

Nograles issued the statement in response to the survey released Wednesday by the Independent pandemic monitoring OCTA Research team, which stated that 98 percent of Filipinos who have already completed their primary vaccine series did not contract COVID-19.

OCTA’s fourth quarter Tugon ng Masa survey conducted last December 7 to 12, also showed that the vaccine hesitancy among adult Filipinos dropped nationwide after five percent of respondents said they are not willing to get vaccinated against the coronavirus disease.

This is a significant decline from the 22 percent vaccine hesitancy recorded by OCTA during its survey conducted in the third quarter of 2021, from September 11 to 16.

OCTA conducted the poll using face-to-face interviews with a sample size of 1,200 adult respondents.

“We are encouraged by the latest results of the OCTA Research December 2021 Tugon ng Masa National Survey, which highlight two important points: first, COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among adult Filipinos dropped to 5%; and second, only 2% of adult Filipinos contracted COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated,” Nograles said.

“This is incontrovertible evidence that COVID-19 vaccines protect us, our loved ones, and our communities from the virus. It also emphasizes that vaccination is a step towards the right direction in our efforts to restore normalcy,” he added.

Nograles said that as of January 26, 2022, a total of 125,089,118 vaccine doses have been administered in the Philippines with more than 58.1-M Filipinos now fully vaccinated.

“Having said this, we will continue to explore different methods to make vaccines more accessible to our people – such as the Resbakuna sa Botika Drive and the We Vax as One Mobile Vaccination Drive for Transport Workers—as part of our goal to inoculate 90 million Filipinos by the end of the term of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” he added.

 

Mga batang 5-11 years old with co-morbidities, prayoridad mabakunahan vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   January 26, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Uunahing mabakunahan ang mga batang may edad 5 hanggang 11 taong gulang na may iniindang karamdaman sa gagawing pagbabakuna ng pamahalaan kontra COVID-19 sa Pebrero.

Ayon sa National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG), mas madaling dapuan ng COVID-19 ang mga taong may co-morbidities kaya kailangan silang bigyan ng prayoridad.

Sa Pebrero 5 target simulan ang COVID vaccination para sa 5 to 11 age group. Prayoridad sa rollout ng bakuna ang mga batang medical complexity, genetic conditions, neurologic conditions, cardiovascular disease, obesity, HIV infection, tuberculosis, chronic respiratory disease at renal disorders.

Ngunit paalala ni Dr. Mary Ann Bunyi ng NITAG, kailangang may clearance mula sa duktor bago magpabakuna ang mga bata.

Wala namang dapat ipangamba ang mga magulang dahil karamihan pa rin naman sa mga nakakaranas ng adverse events pagkatapos makatanggap ng bakuna ay mga adult.

Kalimitan sa napaulat na adverse events ay lagnat, pagkahilo, pananakit ng bahagi ng katawan na nabakunahan, sakit ng ulo, at pagtaas ng blood pressure na normal lang na maramdaman pagkatapos mabakunahan.

Lumalabas rin sa ulat ng Food and Drug Administration (FDA) na 3% lang sa hanay ng 12 to 17 taong gulang ang nakaranas ng serious adverse events matapos mabakunahan kumpara sa mga nasa edad 18 to 29.

Inirerekomenda ang pag-inom ng paracetamol sa mga bata kapag nakaranas ng lagnat, pananakit ng katawan at ulo.

Ayon kay Bunyi, mas mababa ang dosage ng bakuna ang ibibigay sa 5-11 age group. May pagkakaiba rin ang takip ng COVID vaccine na ibibigay sa mga ito kumpara sa mga 12 to 17 years old.

“Dose was 1/3 of the adult dose which is 10 mcg given at 0.2 ml…The vial which is used for 5-11 y/o is orange cap it is also a multi-dose vial which is good for 10 doses. The route in administering the vaccine is both intramuscular,” ani Bunyi.

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine pa lang ang may emergency use authorization sa Pilipinas na maaring ibigay sa mga batang 5 to 11 ang edad.

Dalawampu’t isang araw ang pagitan ng una at second dose ng bakuna para sa mga bata. Wala pang rekomendasyon sa ngayon kung maaari na silang bigyan ng booster dose kapag nakumpleto na ang primary series.

Paanyaya ng NITAG sa mga magulang, pabakunahan kontra COVID-19 ang mga anak upang mabigyan sila ng proteksyon mula sa mas nakakahawang variants na Delta at Omicron at mga malulubhang sintomas ng sakit.

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