BY ROY C. MABASA
The Japanese government has announced the delivery of the oral antiviral drug Avigan to the Philippines for the start of the clinical trials to be administered to 100 Filipino COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) patients.
In a statement on Thursday night, the Japanese Embassy said the Avigan tablets were turned over to the Department of Health as part of its emergency grant aid to countries severely affected by COVID-19.
Generically known as favipiravir, Avigan has drawn interest from many countries for its potential to prevent viral replication, even as its effectiveness against the novel coronavirus is yet to be established.
Last May, the Philippines asked Japan to expand its clinical research on Avigan to the Philippines in its effort to find a potential treatment for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
“Japan hopes that this ongoing cooperation with the Philippines would further contribute to the advancement of clinical research to contain the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Japanese Embassy said.
Earlier reports indicated that the Philippine government has allotted R18 million pesos (approximately $367,000) for the Avigan trials to be conducted in at least three health care facilities.
Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co., a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Corporation, is the developer of Avigan.
This development came as the Philippines overtook Indonesia as the hotspot of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia with a total of 119,460 confirmed cases as of Thursday, August 6.