Duterte volunteers Philippines for clinical trials of potential Japan-made COVID-19 vaccines

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Duterte volunteers Philippines for clinical trials of potential Japan-made COVID-19 vaccines
Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (C) addresses a live video conference on the special Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in Hanoi on April 14, 2020.
AFP / Manan Vatsyayana, Pool

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Tuesday night's Special ASEAN Summit that the Philippines was ready to participate in clinical trials of a Japan-made drug, Avigan, as a possible novel coronavirus (COVID-19) treatment. 

This was confirmed by Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, who said that the ASEAN leaders agreed on a set of resolutions after the special summit. 

According to Nograles, the chief executive highlighted boosting production and trade in the region, maintaining food security and vaccine research, and preparing for similar outbreaks in the future. 

"Kung naalala nyo po nung Lunes nabanggit ni Pangulong Duterte ang Avigan, isang gamot na ginagamit para sa flu; isa ito sa mga pinag-usapan sa ASEAN Three Plus One Summit," Nograles said. 

"The president had an exchange with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe regarding this drug, and during the meeting [Duterte] reiterated that the Philippines is ready to participate in clinical trials of potential vaccines like Avigan."  

(If you remember, President Duterte on Monday mentioned Avigan, one medicine used to treat the flu; this is one of the things they talked about at the ASEAN Three Plus One Summit.)

A report by Clinical Trials Arena said that the drug, developed by Japanese company Fujifilm, was being studied for its safety possible COVID-19 treatment in the United States.

The study would comprise 50 coronavirus patients, the report said. 

In a recent statement, Fujifilm said it would “continue to work to establish a treatment method for COVID-19 patients through conducting clinical trials, and to contribute to ending the spread of this global pandemic as soon as possible by increasing the production of Avigan in collaboration with strategic partners.”

"According to Prime Minister Abe, there are 50 countries that are interested in studying this drug further," Nograles added. 

ASEAN cooperation

Speaking at the virtual summit, Duterte said “ASEAN must collaborate and coordinate within our region and beyond.”

Vietnam's premier Nguyen Xuan Phuc said that COVID-19 "has badly impacted people's lives, their socio-economic situation... challenging stability and social security."

The 10-member summit agreed on a joint resolution afterwards, which consisted of:

  • Enhancing national and regional capacities for future pandemic response, including the protection of healthcare workers and provision of health supplies
  • Possibility of setting up a reserve of essential medical supplies that enables rapid response to emergency needs
  • Further scientific cooperation in epidemiological research including with the private sector, towards rapid, research, development, manufacturing and distribution of diagnostics anti-viral medicines and vaccines
  • Keeping markets open for trade and investment, and enhance cooperation to ensuring food security
  • Strengthen joint efforts toward post-pandemic recovery, stimulate economic development and financial resilience, restore growth, connectivity and tourism, maintain market stability, and prevent potential risks of economic recession.

As of this writing, the virus has afflicted 5,223 Filipinos according to the Health Department's latest count on Tuesday evening. — with reports from Agence France-Presse

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