Philippines begins Avigan trial on COVID-19 patients
A health worker from Santa Ana Hospital in Manila shows the anti-flu drug "Avigan," which was donated by Japan for the COVID-19 patients in the Philippines in this undated photo.
The STAR/KJ Rosales

Philippines begins Avigan trial on COVID-19 patients

Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - November 25, 2020 - 3:19pm

MANILA, Philippines — The clinical trial of anti-flu drug Avigan as a possible treatment for coronavirus disease has already begun in the Philippines, the Department of Health said Wednesday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the clinical evaluation of the Japanese drug has started on November 20.

The trial was initially slated on August 17 but processing delays hampered the start of the study.

So far, the clinical trial which aims to evaluate the efficiency of Avigan on treating coronavirus patients has only eight participants. Broken down, three patients are enrolled at the Philippine General Hospital, 3 at the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, and two at the Quirino Memorial Medical Center.

Santa Ana Hospital has yet to enlist study participants.

Eased protocols

Vergeire said the recruitment protocol for the clinical trial of Avigan has been eased to increase the number of participants needed for the study.

The revised protocol now allows non-severe COVID-19 patients, with or without pneumonia and not on “high flow oxygen support.”

With less stringent criteria already in place, the health official is hoping the participating hospitals will reach the target sample size, which has been expanded to 144.

“Hopefully, in the coming days or weeks, we can reach the number of samples that we need to complete this trial,” Vergeire said.

Clinical trials in China suggested that Avigan could play a role in shortening the recovery time for patients who have contracted the new coronavirus. However, there are concerns about the drug’s side effects such as birth defects. 

The new coronavirus has infected 421,722 people in the Philippines, with 8,185 deaths.

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