Still no ‘magic pill’ for virus, says DOH after UK ‘breakthrough’ | Inquirer News

Still no ‘magic pill’ for virus, says DOH after UK ‘breakthrough’

By: - Reporter / @jovicyeeINQ
/ 05:36 AM June 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday cautioned the public against thinking that a “magic pill” for COVID-19 had been found following the release of a British study that found using a steroid in treating severely ill patients could help reduce their risk of death by a third.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that while the findings on the use of the steroid dexamethasone might be a “breakthrough in science,” the public should understand that there were still limitations to the study led by a team from Oxford University.


Waiting for peer reviews

The study, which covered more than 2,000 patients, had yet to be peer-reviewed, she said. This means that other experts have yet to validate or confirm its findings.

“[P]eople might think that this is the ‘magic pill’ against COVID-19. It is not,” Vergeire told an online press briefing.


“We will wait for the results of the peer reviews so that our experts here can also study and say if we can administer the treatment to our patients,” she added.

In the United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health Research’s report, it was found that for patients who received standard treatment, the risk of death was 41 percent for those on ventilators and 25 percent for those on oxygen. (See story in World, Page A11.)

By taking 6 mg of dexamethasone daily, the risk of death was reduced “by one-third in ventilated patients and by one-fifth in other patients receiving oxygen only.”

“Overall, dexamethasone reduced the risk of 28-day mortality by 17 percent with a highly significant trend showing greatest benefit among those on ventilators,” the report said.

A steroid that has been in use since the 1960s, dexamethasone is meant to reduce inflammation in a range of conditions, including inflammatory disorders and certain cancers, according to the World Health Organization.

Vergeire stressed that this development should not be taken to mean that the steroid could be taken as a prophylactic.

“We cannot use this for mild, asymptomatic or even for preventing people not to get [COVID-19]. The study clearly stated that this was given to severe and critical cases as supportive treatment,” she said.


Vergeire also warned that while the antiviral Fabunan contained dexamethasone, the public should not use Fabunan because its safety and efficacy could not be guaranteed as it remained unregistered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA director general Eric Domingo reminded the public that the police could arrest anyone administering the unregistered and purported vaccine against COVID-19.

PH to get access to vaccine

Vergeire expressed optimism that the Philippines will soon get access to a vaccine for COVID-19, as talks are under way for the country’s inclusion in the clinical trials of four pharmaceutical companies, including Sinopharm, China’s largest drug maker.

She said that based on documents and evidence submitted to the DOH by the manufacturers, there was a “potential that we can participate and try” the companies’ experimental vaccines, one of which goes into the third stage of trial in August.

Vergeire, however, did not name the pharmaceutical companies the DOH was dealing with, except for Sinopharm.

Last week, President Duterte said Chinese President Xi Jinping assured him that the Philippines would get “priority” once China had developed a vaccine for COVID-19.

On Wednesday, the DOH reported 457 additional COVID-19 cases, taking the national caseload to 27,238. Of the additional cases, 342 were patients who tested positive for the causative coronavirus in the last three days. The remaining 115 were late cases, or patients who tested positive for the virus at least four days ago.

The DOH recorded 268 new recoveries, raising the number of COVID-19 survivors to 6,820.

But five more patients died, pushing the toll to 1,108.

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, covid-19 cure, DoH, steroid treatment
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