Clinical trials on ivermectin to start in June – DOST

Marje Pelayo   •   May 6, 2021   •   361

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said that preparations are underway for the anticipated clinical trials on the use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday (May 5), the official said the trials will be spearheaded by pulmonary doctor Dr. Aileen Wang of the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) and will be implemented for eight months from June 2021 to January 2022.

He said the Department of Health (DOH) has allotted a total of P22 million for the trial of ivermectin.

It will be conducted on 1,200 volunteer adults, 18 years old and above, who are asymptomatic or non-severe COVID patients.

The team is awaiting ethics approval this month before proceeding with the trial.

“Ang ginagawa ay ethics approval para sa kanilang gagawin at recruitment ng staff na mag-a-administer ng clinical trials,” Dela Peña said.

They are currently coordinating with the Philippine Red Cross for the utilization of its facilities.

Other agents also under clinical trial are as follows:

* Randomized control clinical trial on the efficacy and safety of Tawa Tawa for adjunctive treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 patients (11 months);

* Randomized, placebo-controlled trial on the safety and efficacy of Lagundi in patients with mild COVID and without comorbidities (10 months);

* Clinical trial on the safety and efficacy of virgin coconut oil (VCO) as adjunctive therapy for hospitalized COVID patients (12 months);

* Beneficial effects of VCO among suspect and probable cases of COVID-19 (14 months, extension included);

* Melatonin as adjuvant treatment for COVID-19 in patients requiring hospitalization (9 months) ;

* Convalescent Plasma as adjunctive therapy for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. (12 months).

Dela Peña noted that the duration of clinical trials for ivermectin is almost similar in period as other agents. The progress of each study still depends on the number of patients who want to volunteer for the trial.

“Kapag dumadami ang pasyenteng magbo-volunteer, mas mapapabilis ang pagtatapos ng mga trials,” the official assured.

Over 42,000 inmates in BJMP jails now vaccinated vs COVID-19

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Over 42,000 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) detained in facilities under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), a total of 42,493 PDLs have been inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine.

Of the PDLs who got jabbed, 27,951 received the first dose; 7,473 received the second dose and 7,069 received a single dose COVID-19 vaccine.

The top three regions with the highest number of vaccinated PDLs are Metro Manila, CALABARZON, and Northern Mindanao.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año calls on local government units (LGUs) to provide enough budget allocation for PDLs and jail officers.

Nakikiusap kami sa ating mga LGUs na bigyan ng sapat na alokasyon ang mga PDLs at jail officers. Napakadelikado na magkaroon ng hawaan sa loob ng mga piitan kaya dapat ay bakunado rin sila (We are requesting the LGUs to provide sufficient allocation for PDLs and jail officers. It would be very dangerous to have transmission inside detention centers so they need to be vaccinated as well),” he said.

“Our PDLs are not and will never be second-class citizens and they, too, deserve to be protected from the virus. We will not stop until all PDLs under the DILG and the BJMP’s supervision are all vaccinated,” he added.

Among the BJMP personnel, 12,568 are fully vaccinated while 14,441 are waiting for their second dose. AAC (with reports from Janice Ingente)

DepEd, DOH ink guidelines for pilot run of face-to-face learning

Robie de Guzman   •   September 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines ­– The Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Health (DOH) on Monday signed the guidelines for the pilot implementation of in-person classes in selected areas deemed as low-risk for COVID-19.

The DepEd said the guidelines contain mechanisms to ensure safety of participating learners, teaching and non-teaching staff, and their families.

“Our utmost priority is the health and safety of our learners and teachers while ensuring that learning happens and learning gaps are addressed. We have been proactive in planning for safe return to schools,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said.

“The operational guideline for the pilot run of face-to-face classes is a product of our collaboration with DOH, in consultation with various stakeholders, including child health experts,” she added.

Briones stressed that the guidelines will only be applicable for schools that passed the strict vetting process of DepEd and DOH, and have the support of their respective local government units.

The pilot test will be conducted in 120 schools across the country that have passed the School Readiness Assessment conducted by DepEd and concerned local government units.

The guidelines set standards on the readiness of schools for re-opening. It implements the Prevent, Detect, Isolate, Treat, and Reintegrate (PDITR) framework highlighting the importance of availability of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities.

The guidelines also emphasized the need for proper ventilation in classrooms, room layouts that will enable physical distancing between persons, prioritization of students who will benefit most from limited face-to-face learning modality, management of foot traffic, and conduct of simulation activities prior to implementation of the pilot, among others.

“We want to ensure that we provide safe learning spaces for children during this pandemic. The pilot run will be a shared responsibility among DOH, DepEd and local government units to ensure that mechanisms are in place from prevention of COVID-19 infection to reintegration of recovered patients,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

“It is also a shared responsibility among school management, teachers, and families for ensuring that all minimum public health standards are observed and possible COVID-19 cases are detected early through regular symptoms screening and reporting,” he added.

Teachers and school personnel participating in the program should be fully vaccinated, must be aged 65 and below, and have no co-morbidities.

“We are committed to providing additional protection for our teachers through vaccination. While vaccination is not mandatory, classroom learning will be limited to vaccinated teaching personnel. So as not to disenfranchise unvaccinated teachers, they may teach using distance or online modules. This also presents options for parents who are still hesitant to send their children to school,” Duque said.

Under the guidelines, Kindergarten class will have a maximum of 12 learners, while Grade 1 to 3 classes will have 16 students. Technical-Vocation classes in five senior high schools may have 20 learners.

Learners in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will only spend a maximum of 3 hours in school while senior high school students will have 4 hours.

The pilot will feature a combined implementation of face-to-face classes and distance learning.

DepEd assured it has drafted a contingency plan with recommended actions for various scenarios, which range from where there is a suspected case presenting symptoms, to a scenario where there is resurgence of COVID-19 cases in multiple barangays. This sets the policy on when schools should impose a lockdown.

“With the help of DOH and other local partners, we will soon orient those who will be involved in the pilot run and coordinate with them regarding the prioritization of their vaccination in case our participating teachers and other non-teaching personnel haven’t completed their vaccines yet,” Briones said.

The government has yet to announce the exact date of the pilot run for physical classes, as well as the list of participating schools.

The dry run will be carried out for two months. Its expansion will depend on the result of the evaluation of the pilot test.

NCR posibleng manatili sa alert level 4 — DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   September 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Posibleng mapalawig pa ang ipinatutupad na Alert Level 4 sa National Capital Region (NCR) sa gitna ng marami pa ring kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa.

Ayon sa Department of Health (DOH), nananatiling nasa moderate risk ang utilization rate ng hospital beds at high-risk naman sa intensive care unit (ICU) beds bagama’t bumaba na ang growth rate at reproduction rate ng COVID-19 sa NCR.

“Kung ito pong mga numero na ito ng NCR ang ating pagbabasehan, tayo po ay posibleng manatili pa sa alert level 4,” ani Dr. Alethea de Guzman, ang direktor ng DOH Epidemiology Bureau.

Gayunman, nirerepaso na aniya ng DOH ang metrics na ito at iba pang indicators tulad ng vaccination coverage na pagbabatayan ng desisyon sa susunod paiiraling alert level sa NCR.

“We need to look at not one or two metrics but several for us to have a better picture and understanding of the COVID-19 situation – cases and fatality data, healthcare capacity, PDITR (prevent-detect-isolate-treat-reintegrate) indicators, and vaccination coverage,” ani De Guzman.

Una nang nagpahayag ng pag-asa si Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairperson Benhur Abalos na maililipat ang NCR sa ilalim ng Alert Level 3 pagsapit ng Oktubre dahil sa bumababang reproduction rate ng COVID-19.

Inilagay sa Alert Level 4 ang NCR nang ipatupad ng pamahalaan ang pilot run ng bagong quarantine system noong Setyembre 16. Tatagal ang pilot implementation hanggang sa Setyembre 30.

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