THE COVID-19 pandemic has the world’s medical minds ardently pursuing a cure for this virus. So far, no clear effective treatment has emerged. Because of this, the World Health Organization (WHO) is embarking on a worldwide Solidarity Trial. This is an international randomized clinical trial with an adaptive design which aims to estimate the effectiveness of four possible therapies in treating COVID-19. Based on initial evidence gathered so far, these are the four treatment options that will be tried: the antiviral Remdesivir which was previously tested for Ebola treatment; antimalarial drugs Chloroquine or Hydroxychloroquine, which have shown some benefits in small studies in China and France; antiretroviral drugs Lopinavir/Ritonavir, this combination has shown some inconclusive results in small studies among COVID patients; and Interferon beta-1a, a multiple sclerosis treatment. Patients will be randomized to either the country’s local standard of care or the local standard of care plus one of the four re-purposed drugs above.
More than 100 countries are participating in the Solidarity Trial and the Philippines’ inclusion has been announced by the Department of Health on April 22, 2020. This was after the Single Joint Research Ethics Board (SJREB) gave its approval last April 17, in support of the COVID-19 global response. This will enable the country to gain access to some of the unavailable therapies for COVID-19 patients.
The Philippine representatives to the WHO Solidarity clinical trial is led by Dr Marissa Alejandria of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine and President of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. She is closely collaborating with the DOH and the WHO, cosponsors of the study. Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire serves as the Department’s official liaison for the DOH. Funding for trial operations is provided by DOST-PCHRD.
There are currently 24 hospitals across the country that are participating in the trial. These include 15 private hospitals: Asian Hospital Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Chinese General Hospital, Diliman Doctors Hospital, Fe del Mundo Medical Center, Makati Medical Center, Manila Doctors Hospital, Manila Medical Center, San Juan de Dios Medical Center, St. Luke’s Medical Center Global, St. Luke’s Medical Center Quezon City, The Medical City, University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Medical Center, University of Santo Tomas Hospital, World Citi Medical Center, and 9 government hospitals: UP-Philippine General Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, San Lazaro Hospital, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, East Avenue Medical Center, Baguio General Hospital, Batangas Medical Center, Vicente Sotto Medical Center, and Southern Philippines Medical Center.
The country started recruiting patients last April 23. As of May 2, the Philippines has enrolled 33 patients from 8 hospitals. We encourage our clinicians to enroll their patients into the Solidarity trial. The more patients we enroll the faster we can find the answer to the question on which treatment interventions are effective or not.
Dr. Marissa Alejandria
First published in UP Manila Healthscape (Special COVID-19 Issue), No.3, 05 May 2020
(This was originally posted on the UP Manila website on May 5, 2020)