MANILA – The Philippines is willing to join the other countries in conducting clinical trials of Avigan, a Japanese anti-viral drug, for potential treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday.
Duterte made the remarks during his address at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (Asean) Plus Three Summit on Covid-19 with Japan, China and South Korea.
“The Philippines is ready to participate in clinical trials and medical studies of potential vaccines and medicines such as Avigan. We are confident our scientists and experts within and outside our region will rise to this colossal challenge. A vaccine and/or treatment must be found sooner rather than later,” Duterte said.
Researches at Wuhan University and other institutions in China have revealed that Avigan, developed by a subsidiary of Japan-based Fujifilm Holdings Corp., is seen as an effective drug in treating Covid-19.
Japan has begun conducting clinical tests to examine the effectiveness and safety of Avigan, otherwise known as Favipiravir, to Covid-19 patients.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga earlier announced the Japanese government’s plan to offer Avigan for free to nations hit by Covid-19 pandemic.
Suga said some 30 countries have made requests to Japan for the procurement of Avigan.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte gives his intervention as he joins other leaders from the Asean member countries, the Republic of Korea, People’s Republic of China and Japan during the special Asean Plus Three Summit on Covid-19 video conference at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on April 14, 2020. (Presidential photo by Ace Morandante)
Duterte said bolstering scientific cooperation in the area of vaccine and anti-viral treatment research and development was necessary to fight Covid-19.
“Our duty then and that of relevant multilateral institutions is to make sure that all countries will have fair and easy access to vaccines and treatments. Discussions on modalities should be started,” he said.
End Covid-19 with finality
Over 1.8 million Covid-19 infections have been recorded globally, according to the data uploaded on the official website of the World Health Organization.
Around 117,217 Covid-19 patients around the world have already died.
In the Philippines, there are 5,223 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 335 fatalities and 295 recoveries.
Duterte lamented that Covid-19 has brought the entire world to a “standstill.”
“We are still in the early stages of this crisis… We face the specter of a global recession,” he said.
Duterte said countries with Covid-19 cases must continue to work together to end Covid-19 pandemic “with finality.”
“Our most urgent priority is strengthening the capacity of our healthcare systems. We call for the increased production and the facilitation of trade of vital medical equipment and supplies in our region. We support the creation of regional reserves of medical supplies to better equip us in this fight,” he said. (PNA)