Senator Imee Marcos has renewed her call on the Department of Health (DOH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider preventive treatments for Covid-19 and grant wider emergency use approval of repurposed drugs like Ivermectin to back up the government’s erratic timeline to procure vaccines.
Marcos issued the statement after the expected arrival of Russia’s Sputnik vaccine Sunday was delayed, adding that earlier delays have taken place even from the COVAX facility of the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Let’s use preventive treatments and repurposed drugs while waiting for the vaccines. Setbacks in delivery timelines are taking place worldwide, not just in the Philippines,” Marcos said.
India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has cut back on its vaccine exports as it faces an overwhelming surge in cases, while the EU and the UK continue to bicker over production and delivery delays, Marcos explained.
Marcos also cited the drawback in vaccine shipments of Moderna to rich countries like Canada and Britain, adding that safety reviews have also delayed the roll-out of AstraZeneca and the J&J vaccine in other countries.
“We need a back-up plan to ease the burden on our healthcare system. The global vaccine supply will remain uncertain for months to come, so what’s the back-up plan to stop infection and transmission, especially of these Covid variants?” Marcos asked.
Repurposing drugs to treat Covid-19 has been undergoing further studies worldwide, following testimonials of relief from patients and doctors alike, particularly in the use of Ivermectin, originally an anti-parasitic that has been used in humans to treat diseases such as elephantiasis and onchocersiasis or “river blindness.”
“The FDA has granted emergency use of Ivermectin but only to certain hospitals. I hope the hesitation is not because it is beholden to the interests of big pharma, since the drug costs only 35 pesos,” Marcos said.
Marcos also cited recent results of a study by infectious disease experts in Singapore that showed the likelihood of Covid-19 infection was reduced with the use of hydroxychloroquine, Ivermectin, and a povidone-iodine throat spray among some 3,000 trial participants after the May 2020 outbreak in the dorms of migrant workers.
Only 201,521 Filipinos have received complete vaccination since the government’s roll-out started in March, with 1,205,697 having received their first dose, according to the April 21 report of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
The government’s yearend goal is to administer 148 million jabs of single-dose and double-dose vaccines to cover 78 million Filipinos, or more than two-thirds of the country’s population of about 108 million, as recommended by the WHO to achieve herd immunity.
“That means the government needs to achieve a daily vaccination rate of about 313,446 people every single day starting May until the end of the year,” Marcos pointed out, adding that the latest IATF report said the fastest vaccination rate in a day has only been 93,849 people.