IATF approves Phl participation in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Maris Federez   •   May 24, 2020   •   594

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 one-day record of COVID-19 cases as infections surge

UNTV News   •   July 13, 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported a record one-day increase for global coronavirus cases on Saturday, with the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa posting the highest increases.

The WHO received reports of 230,370 confirmed COVID-19 infections around the world, marking a new high in infections over a 24-hour period, and bringing the total to 12,552,765 cases, including 561,617 deaths, as of 16:49pm CEST on Sunday.

The United States saw 59,904 new cases and 442 new deaths in 24 hours.

The total confirmed infections in the country reached 3,301,820 and the death toll rose to 135,171 as of 19:34 EST (23:34 GMT) on Sunday, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

The state of Florida reported 15,299 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, shattering not only its own previous single-day records, but also those of any other state as the pandemic continued to rage in the country.

The mind-boggling number brought the total infections to 269,811 in the Sunshine State, with the death toll reaching 4,346, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The recent surge was the result of increased testing and widespread transmission as the state prematurely loosened lockdown measures, as a result of which people were seen gathering in crowds, no longer heeding anti-virus guidelines such as maintaining social distance or wearing face coverings.

Apart from Florida, the infections in states such as Texas, California and Arizona are surging as well, replacing New York state as the new epicenters.

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb predicted on Sunday that the southern states will reach the apex in the next two or three weeks and will experience a high number of infections for a while.

Brazil on Sunday said its nationwide COVID-19 death toll reached 72,100, with 631 more patients having succumbed to the novel coronavirus in the previous 24 hours.

The country reported 24,831 new cases in the same period, bringing the total number of infections to 1,864,681, the health ministry said.

Brazil registers a mortality rate of 3.9 percent, and 1,123,204 people have recovered from COVID-19 in the past four months, according to the ministry’s daily updated COVID-19 dashboard.

The most populous state of Sao Paulo is the epicenter of the pandemic, with 371,997 cases of infection and 17,848 deaths.

India reported the highest single day spike in the number of fresh cases in the country, India’s federal health ministry said on Monday morning.

India’s federal health ministry said 500 new deaths due to COVID-19 and 28,701 new positive cases were reported during the past 24 hours across the country, taking the number of deaths to 23,174 and total cases to 878,254.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the country reached 849,553 and the death toll 22,674 on Sunday morning.

According to ministry officials, so far 553,471 people have been discharged from hospitals after showing improvement.

The country has entered its Unlock 2.0 phase, though restrictions remain in full force inside the COVID-19 Containment Zones. Commercial international flights to and from India are suspended until July 31.

Last week, the government of Uttar Pradesh, the country’s biggest state in terms of population, had decided to impose a weekend lockdown from Friday night until Monday morning, to cut the chain of transmission of COVID-19.

The state decided on Monday it would continue with similar lockdowns every weekend.

Russia registered 6,615 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking its total to 727,162, the country’s coronavirus response center said in a statement on Sunday.

The country’s death toll has risen by 130 to 11,335, while 501,061 people have recovered, including 3,615 over the last 24 hours, according to the statement.

Data also showed that Russia had conducted over 23 million tests nationwide by Sunday.

The confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan increased by 407 to 21,991 on Sunday, while the deaths stood at 983, according to the latest figures from Japan’s national broadcasting organization NHK.

The data also showed that Tokyo reported 206 new infections on Sunday, topping the 200 mark for the fourth straight day. So far, Tokyo had a total of 7,927 infections.

Yukio Edano, the leader of Japan’s largest opposition party – the the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan – said that the government should issue a state of emergency again for Tokyo and the surrounding areas.

South Korea reported 62 more cases of COVID-19 as of 00:00 on Monday local time compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 13,479.

The daily caseload rose above 60 in five days amid the continued small cluster infections and imported cases.

Of the new cases, 43 were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 1,872. It continued to increase in the double digits for 18 straight days.

Small cluster infections were found linked to religious gatherings and door-to-door sales businesses.

No more death was confirmed, leaving the death toll at 289, and its total fatality rate stood at 2.14 percent.

South Korea ended its mask ration system on Sunday after a four-month operation, as the supply of face masks stabilized. With the termination of the scheme, citizens are able to buy an unlimited number of masks at market prices.

South Korea will re-apply the ration system if there is a sudden rise in demand. Meanwhile, South Korea will punish mask stockpiling.

Also on Sunday, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok said that South Korea will form an inter-agency organization this month for the so-called Korean-version New Deal project aimed at creating jobs and fostering economic growth against the impact of the pandemic. (Reuters)

DOH warns against buying and selling of blood plasma

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 13, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) warned the public against buying and selling of blood plasma taken from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) survivors.

DOH Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said there is a high health risk in buying blood plasma from unverified sellers.

May mga sakit na maaaring maisalin galing diyan sa mga dugo na binebenta natin (Blood that are sold could contain diseases that can be transmitted). Ito po ang mga (these are) transmissible infections through the blood. This is very risky kasi magkakasakit ang pagbibigyan natin ng mga dugong ito (because it could sicken the recipient), ” she said.

The DOH has received reports of recovered COVID-19 patients selling blood plasma at P80,000 per bag in Cebu City. Vergeire said there is no guarantee the blood plasma underwent proper evaluation to ensure that it is safe for blood transfusion.

Vergeire said blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors contains antibodies that can help fight the infection as well as boost the immune system of COVID-19 patients. However, COVID-19 survivors need to undergo proper screening in qualified hospitals and blood centers that are conducting convalescent plasma therapy.

Kaya nga ayaw natin na pinagbebenta o ayaw nating pinababayaran ang dugo. Gusto natin na inii-screen muna natin ang mga pasyente bago sila makapagbigay ng dugo para maiwasan ang mga ganitong risks (That is why we do not want these blood plasma to be sold. We want to screen the patients first before donation to avoid risks),” she said.

The Health Department also discourages COVID-19 survivors from selling their blood plasma and donate them instead. A website called, plasmangpagasa.com, has been launched for COVID-19 survivors to register and donate their blood.

Meanwhile, DOH Region 7 has begun their investigation on the sale of blood plasma in their area. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

18 countries issue joint statement supporting WHO; criticize US withdrawal

UNTV News   •   July 13, 2020

A total of 18 countries in Europe, the Caribbean, and South America convened a video conference and issued a joint statement on July 10, stating their strong support for the United Nations, especially the World Health Organization (WHO), and criticizing U.S. withdrawal from WHO.

The meeting was initiated by the European Union, France, and Spain. The EU countries participating in the meeting include Germany, Croatia, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, and Sweden, while the Latin American countries attending the conference are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Dominica.

The 18 countries believed that WHO plays a key role in the global collaborative fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Cooperation and solidarity are at the core of responding to the pandemic.

The countries jointly support WHO in carrying out coordinated actions, conducting a fair, independent and comprehensive assessment and summarizing the experience of the international community in responding to the pandemic. (Reuters)

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