“the CIGB 258 vaccine has an 84% survival rate… 72% of critically ill patients and 90% of severe cases recovered from the virus with the vaccine treatment”
THE race to discover the ultimate elixir against the rampaging coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic is in full swing. In fact, almost all countries have their own potential cure, some have scientific basis and some are anecdotal and based on tradition and folk knowledge.
The Philippine is not exempted. Upon the prodding of President Rodrigo Duterte who promised hefty incentives for scientists and inventors who can find a vaccine, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has approved the trial of some potential medicines including virgin coconut oil and the backyard herb “tawa-tawa,” which is believed to help cure dengue fever.
The governor of Cebu province even recommended the use of “tuob” (steam treatment) to get rid of the virus from the lungs of patients. However, the Department of Health was quick to make an advisory that said practice had no basis to cure Covid-19.
But the effort to find a cure did not end there. The Philippines joined other countries in the World Health Organization’s solidarity trials for various off-label drugs (commercially-available medicines whose main purpose is not intended to cure Covid-19). Among the drugs under scrutiny are remdesivir; anti-HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir, and anti-malaria drug chloroquine.
On July 1, the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said they had approved and issued “compassionate permits” for the use of investigational drug remdesivir to 19 gravely-ill Covid-19 patients. FDA claims that based on their initial study and those in other countries, the medicine cuts the hospitalization time of the patient from 15 days to 11 days or about 30% reduction.
Remdesivir is an antiviral drug originally meant to treat Ebola virus, but has shown to have treating effects on the coronavirus disease. This is the reason why countries like Japan and South Korea have approved it as Covid-19 treatment. In fact, the US which is hard hit by the pandemic has reportedly bought stockpiles of remdesivir for its constituents.
The said drug is yet to get a Certificate of Product Registration with the FDA to be commercially available in the market in the Philippines. According to reports, each dose of remdesivir costs nearly Php 20,000. A severe Covid-19 patient needs about six doses to get well.
Another drug that has big potential is the dexamethasone, which is an anti-inflammatory drug but is not part of the Philippine’s solidarity trial. Based on some studies, Covid-19 patients suffer from massive internal organ inflammation that may trigger heart attack and other complications. Meanwhile, last month, the country accepted an offer from China for its own trial of certain potential drugs against the virus.
And now here’s then CIGB 258 vaccine, a potential Covid-19 cure from Cuba. According to Verena Muzio, chief of the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center (CIGB) during the Mesa Redonda television program on Wednesday, July 1, the CIGB 258 vaccine has an 84% survival rate. She also said 72% of critically ill patients and 90% of severe cases recovered from the virus with the vaccine treatment. Cuba used the said vaccine to treat 58 patients, including those with severe and critical conditions from Covid-19 with promising results.
Cuba has 2,107 confirmed Covid-19 positive cases and 83 deaths, while recoveries neared 2,000 mark according to the data compiled by US-based John Hopkins University on the pandemic.
On the other hand, some 2,000 Brazilian Covid-19 patients will participate in the testing phase of another vaccine developed by Oxford University, becoming “the first country where the vaccine was tried out of England,” according to published reports Wednesday.
Brazil’s death toll reached an astounding 32,500 mark with 584,000 confirmed cases—the second highest count globally after the US.
Can this be a telltale sign that we are winning the war against this unseen enemy?