WHO urges nations to stock up on ventilators for severe cases of COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   March 4, 2020   •   658

MANILA, Philippines – The World Health Organization (WHO) is encouraging countries to prepare medical equipment capable of dealing with severe cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

According to WHO, “oxygen therapy is the major treatment intervention for patients with severe COVID-19.”

Thus, the WHO recommends stocking up on useful equipment which can provide oxygen to patients who have difficulty breathing, one equipment is a ventilator.

“All countries should work to optimize the availability of pulse oximeters and medical oxygen systems,” the WHO said in its report.

“Mortality in those with critical illness has been reported as over 50%, thus implementation of proven critical care interventions such as lung protective ventilation should be optimized,” it added.

In the Philippines, not all areas have enough ventilators according to the Philippine Hospital Association which can be a concern.

“Sa Manila, hindi tayo kakapusin dahil marami dito niyan. Pero bandang probinsya baka maaaring kapusin, (Here in Manila we have enough but in the provinces, we may not have enough units),” said Dr. Bu Castro of PHA.

Dr. Castro explained that ventilators can be of big help especially since novel coronavirus primarily affects the person’s respiratory system.

“Sa baga unang dumadaan ang oxygen kaya ang ventilator itinutulak niya ang oxygen para pumasok sa baga at ma-absorb ng katawan ng tao, (Oxygen enters the body through the lungs so the ventilator pushes the oxygen to be absorbed by the body),” the doctor said.

Another equipment that could help in dealing with COVID-19 cases is the hyperbaric chamber.

However, only major hospitals in the country are able to produce such equipment due to its high cost.

“Pareho rin iyan ng prinsipyo ng ventilator, ang hyperbaric nga lang nasa loob ka ng chamber, (It’s the same principle as ventilators only that hyperbaric places you inside a chamber,)” Dr. Bu said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III assures that the country’s major hospitals are equipped and able to address cases of COVID-19 with state-of-the-art facilities.

“All our levels 2 and 3 hospitals have the capability to manage critical cases, we have respirators, ventilators,” Duque said.

Duque stressed that what’s important is to provide coronavirus patients with the necessary care and attention to prevent their conditions from deteriorating or to curb further infection.

“If you notice inubo lang kahit na walang lagnat sa NCC nilalagay na namin kaagad (simple cough even without fever, we transport the patient to NCC (New Clark City) right away) because the key is always early detection. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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WHO pauses hydroxychloroquine trial over safety concerns

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

The World Health Organization has suspended testing the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 patients due to safety concerns, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

Hydroxychloroquine has been touted by U.S. President Donald Trump and others as a possible treatment for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Earlier this month, Trump said he was taking the drug to ward off the virus.

The WHO has previously recommended against using hydroxychloroquine to treat or prevent coronavirus infections, except as part of clinical trials.

The decision to pause the trial was done out of an abundance of caution while safety data is reviewed.

The WHO said that other arms of the so-called ‘Solidarity trial’ – a major international initiative to hold clinical tests of potential treatments for the virus – were continuing. (Reuters)

IATF approves Phl participation in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Maris Federez   •   May 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Upon the recommendation of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the proposed participation of the Philippines in clinical trials that seek to formulate a potential vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Based on IATF Resolution No.39 dated May 22, 2020, the task force has also ordered the creation of a sub-technical working group which will be led by the DOST.

The group will be coordinating with the four collaborating organizations composed of the Department of Health (DOH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and the World Health Organization (WHO) with regard to the said clinical trials.

The IATF has also issued a directive to the FDA to facilitate the processing of necessary permits for the conduct of the clinical trials in the country.

The collaborating organizations for the clinical trials are the Adimmune Corporation, Academia Sinica, Chinese Academy of Science- Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, the Sinopharm – Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, and the Beijing Institute.

Once the clinical trials are undertaken, these will be included in the FDA’s requirements for the registration process for the vaccine and the application for certificate of registration to make the vaccine available in the market.

The Philippines has initially participated in the WHO’s clinical trials, which include the testing of off-label drugs that show potential of being effective against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the IATF has also approved the plans of the DOST to construct research centers for the local vaccine research development.

These include the Virology S&T Institute at the New Clark City in Tarlac and the reactivation of the Pharmaceutical Development Unit of the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute. —(from the report of Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

WHO reports most coronavirus cases in a day, cases near five million

UNTV News   •   May 21, 2020

The World Health Organization expressed concern on Wednesday (May 20) for the rising number of new coronavirus cases in poor countries, even as many rich nations emerge from lockdown.

The global health body said 106,000 new cases of infections of the novel coronavirus had been recorded in the past 24 hours, the most in a single day since the outbreak began, as the total number of cases world-wide approached five million.

Speaking at a news conference, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that two thirds of those cases had come from just four countries.

The WHO has come under fire from U.S. President Donald Trump, who accuses it of having mishandled the outbreak and favouring China. This week Trump threatened to withdraw from the WHO and permanently withhold funding.

Tedros acknowledged having received a letter from Trump, but declined to comment further.

In comments that could annoy Trump further, the head of the WHO’s emergency programme, Dr. Mike Ryan, told the press conference that people should avoid using the malaria medicine hydroxychloroquine, except for conditions it is proven to treat. Trump has said he is taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus infection.

Tedros said he was committed to accountability. The WHO has announced a review into the response to the pandemic, which emerged in China late last year.

“WHO calls for accountability more than anyone. It has to be done and when it’s done it has to be a comprehensive one,” he said of the review, while declining to give a timeline for it starting. (Reuters)

(Production: Louisa Naks)

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