COVID-19 infections near 325,000; Avigan trials start this week


THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DoH) reported 2,291 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections on Monday, bringing the total to 324,762.

The death toll rose to 5,840 after 64 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 87 to 273, 123, it said in a bulletin.

Of the total cases, 85.6% were mild, 9.2% did not show symptoms, 3.6% were critical and 1.6 were severe. The country’s COVID-19 death rate was at 1.8%, lower than the global rate of 2.93%. The virus had a reproduction number of 0.784, the agency said.

It takes almost 12 days for cases to double and almost 17 days for deaths to double. The infection rate was at 10.17%, higher than the global average of less than 5%.

Meanwhile, DoH said it might start clinical trials for the Japanese anti-flu drug Avigan this week after signing the agreement on Friday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire told an online news briefing.

Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III and the University of Philippines-Manila signed the deal. Avigan is made by Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co., Ltd.

Ms. Vergeire said the agency was ironing out the information database and will be ready to kick off the trials this week.

She also said the department would follow protocols in recommending which treatments will be used in the country after Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. claimed to have reduced the viral load and symptoms of coronavirus patients.

“We’re looking at the possibility of importing it,” she said.

Regeneron’s claims were never published in a scientific journal, which is a requirement for good evidence, Ms. Vergeire said, adding that the research had not been reviewed by other scientists.

At the same briefing, Interior Undersecretary Jonathan E. Malaya said almost 40,000 village emergency response teams had been activated to help in surveillance and local contact tracing. — Gillian M. Cortez and Charmaine A. Tadalan

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