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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Why the delay?

Why the delay?"The lack of urgency is astounding."

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Sometime last month, in the midst of the ivermectin controversy, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Department of Health and the Department of Science and Technology to conduct clinical trials on the supposed miracle drug against the dreaded COVID-19.

However, in response, the DOST bared it would start conducting clinical trials by the end of the month of May.

Why wait for over a month before complying with the President’s order? 

No less than the prime mover of the ivermectin initiative, Anakalusugan Rep. Michael “Idol Mike” Defensor, is calling on both the DoH and the DOST to heed the clinical trials as ordered by Duterte on the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 cases “with a sense of urgency,” time being of the essence.

“The trials should be done as expeditiously as possible. Time is of the essence because we could save lives with the use of this inexpensive wonder drug,” says Defensor, adding the DoH and the DOST should not wait until next year to come out with trial results.

Take note that clinical trials usually take no less than six months to finish.

“If the administration achieves its goal of attaining herd immunity in the National Capital Region Plus area this year by vaccinating at least 58 million Filipinos, the DoH and DOST would just have wasted precious funds with their studies on the use of ivermectin on COVID-19 patients,” he said.

“As our elders would say, ‘Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo’ (What is grass good for, if the horse is already dead),” he added.

Defensor is raising a valid point here. In an article written by a medical doctor Justus Hope and published in and It appears India, particularly Delhi, is now slowly containing the contagion by dispensing Ivermectin to its citizens.

“Just three weeks after adding Ivermectin, Delhi now leads India out of the deadly second surge of the COVID pandemic. Cases that had peaked at 28,395 on April 20 plummeted nearly 80 percent to just 6,430 on May 15. Deaths peaked May 4, and now they are also down 25 percent,” Hope’s article read.

On May 10, Hope said the Indian State of Goa, under Chief Minister of Goa Dr. Pramod Sawant, “a progressive 49-year-old physician persuaded by science,” adopted an even more ambitious policy of preemptive Ivermectin for all adults in the state. 

This was after Sawant reportedly read Dr. Pierre Kory’s  Dr. Tess Lawrie’s and Dr. Andrew Hill’s robust meta-analyses. 

As a direct result, Goa has seen a drop in cases from 3,124 the day after the announcement to 1,314 five days later.

“Meanwhile, three other Indian states have followed Goa’s lead in adding ivermectin: Uttarkhand, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh. And, as expected, they have seen a drop in new daily cases as well, with Uttar Pradesh down nearly 75 percent from a peak of 37,944 just four days after they began following the April 20 AIIMS guidance to just 10,505 on May 16,” says Hope.

So, if other countries are doing it, and are reaping some success in the process, why do the DoH and the DOST seem to be playing it cool as we see the number of covid cases in the country seemingly stuck in the 50,000 range?

Defensor pointed out that the ivermectin trials might be useful if the results are out before the end of this year.

“We could still save many lives with the use of this cheap experimental drug. Poor patients can afford it. It costs only P35 per tablet. That’s what makes it appealing,” he stressed as he chided the DOH for promoting and even procuring the more expensive Covid-19 experimental drugs while cracking down on the use of ivermectin.

Remdesivir, which the DOH recently procured, costs from P11,000 to P48,000 per vial in private hospitals.

“Ivermectin and remdesivir are both investigational drugs. The World Health Organization does not encourage their use, and yet the DOH is promoting one while clamping down on the other,” he says.

In fact, WHO has even removed remdesivir from the list of COVID-19 medicines, which is why Defensor says he could not understand why the DOH obviously has a bias for costly COVID-19 medicines.

“They continue to spend billions to buy remdesivir, whose cost is borne ultimately by taxpayers, by Philhealth and by desperate private citizens who try to save the lives of their sick loved ones,” he adds.

Unfortunately, despite all the pleadings, it appears both the DoH and the DOST remain unperturbed. It seems they don’t have the time for some cheap medicine even if it is being touted in other parts of the world as pandemic-ender.

They don’t even have the time to explain why they are delaying the conduct of the clinical trial of ivermectin.


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