"These developments show that we have a fighting chance against this disease."
This is the tenth day of the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine. While the numbers of confirmed COVID-positive patients increase, we also see drastic actions carried out by both national and local authorities. The Department of Health has already designated hospitals that will primarily deal with COVID-19 patients. Local government units have imposed stricter home quarantine while facilitating the distribution of medicines, food packs, and other forms of assistance to their constituents. Donation drives for personal protective equipment and food for health care workers have been put up by the members of the private sector. Other countries have conveyed their intent of donating thousands of test kits to our country.
Notwithstanding these prevention and containment measures against COVID-19, we need a cure for this disease. As much as we strive to remain optimistic, we have recorded, so far, more deaths than recoveries. Many of our health care workers, especially doctors, have been afflicted by the disease they have been trying to fight.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an American organization which has been a long-standing institution in disease surveillance and health research, no drug has yet been approved specifically for the treatment of COVID-19. The standard clinical management so far is prevention and control measures, supportive care, and supplementary oxygen and mechanical ventilatory support when indicated. The World Health Organization released interim treatment guidelines for COVID-19 patients. For mild COVID-19 cases, the management includes treatment of symptoms, monitoring, and prevention of complications. For the severe cases, oxygen therapy is given as well as management of other co-morbidities, while also treating other symptoms and preventing other complications. This underlines the importance of adequate medical supplies in hospitals to effectively manage the conditions of COVID-19 patients, especially in the provinces.
Thankfully, certain medications are currently being studied by foreign institutions. One of these investigational and experimental drugs is Remdesivir, an antiviral drug which inhibits the replication of the virus. This drug, according to CDC, is currently undergoing clinical trials in the United States and China.While some confirmed cases have received this drug for compassionate use outside of the clinical trial setting in the US, its effect on COVID-19, though, has not yet been scientifically and clinically proven. We still need to wait for the completion and results of the clinical trials to determine whether the drug is effective and whether there are adverse side effects such as organ injuries, or other harm to the body during and after intake, immediately and in the long run.
Other medical institutions are also looking at antimalarial drugs to repurpose them as possible treatment for COVID-19. Others are exploring combinations of other antiviral drugs that can help weaken or destroy the virus. A Japanese flu drug has also been found promising in Chinese clinical trials. People who received the drug in the clinical trial were said to have been cleared of the virus in less than a week. Health research institutions have also been studying and developing vaccines against COVID-19. Note that these are still in the investigatory and experimentation phases and no confirmation or validation has yet been issued by local and foreign health authorities. The clinical trials must be completed before any government agency can approve the use of these experimental medicines against COVID-19. (Taking of the said drugs without a proper doctor's prescription may produce harmful effects to the body such as toxicity or organ damage.)
These developments, however, show that we have a fighting chance against this disease. For now, let us stay put. Let us do our best to prevent further transmission of the virus to reduce the incidence of COVID-19 cases until we reach a downward trend. Testing kits will be available soon, but we need to prioritize those suspected cases, under the DOH protocols, to ensure that we provide the right treatment and management to patients and prevent the unnecessary use of the limited medical supplies in hospitals so that these can be reserved for the treatment of confirmed COVID-19 patients.
As I have said before, let us remain hopeful and continue praying for our country. Let us pray for our researchers and scientists, that they may be able to find an effective cure for this disease which has already taken thousands of lives worldwide. Let us pray for our health workers, that they may be strengthened by the love and support of their fellow Filipinos. Let us pray for our leaders, that we may be able to continue providing the right solutions and measures needed by our country today. Let us pray for one another and let us continue abiding by the guidelines imposed for the protection of everyone.