A group of medical experts on Thursday pushed for the complete lifting of lockdown with early treatment and the use of hydroxychloroquine as a prophylaxis treatment against the coronavirus disease.
Health professionals from the Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines (CDC Ph) said that the length of lockdowns has already jeopardized many sectors particularly among people who are struggling to get by.
This is the reason why the group is recommending to treat COVID-19 patients early and strengthen their immune system to minimize the risk of developing into severe cases.
The Department of Trade and Industries (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez backed the idea as he said that the lockdowns have affected the country’s economy.
He said that with the virus expected to last longer, it is important to help the economy get back on its feet through reduced risk management among business sectors.
“What we don’t want to do is risk avoidance, what we want is risk management. We want to reopen safely,” he said.
Among the proposals by the group of doctors is the use of hydroxychloroquine which they said can be administered among low to high risk patients of COVID-19 to reduce their chances of being admitted to the hospital.
Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial drug initially used to treat malaria and other autoimmune conditions such as chronic discoid lupus erythematosus, systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Medicine specialist Dr. Rodrigo Ong proposed the use of hydroxychloroquine together with doses of zinc and azithromycin for a decreased chance of hospital admission from the average of 18 to 21 days.
“They receive positive response with intervention in the early five days. With early intervention and with medication we decrease the number of conformity of the patient,” he said in a forum.
This was further backed by doctors who said that other countries have been administering this drug to many of the COVID patients which the Philippines should likewise adapt.
Dr. Joel Lopez of the JLopez Medical Group said that most of the countries such as India, Ukraine and Cuba, who have implemented its widespread use had a 75.8 percent lower death rate compared to others who are limitedly using it like the United States, France, and Canada.
In July, the World Health Organization (WHO) ordered the discontinued use of this medication in the solidarity trial after adverse effects were reported among the patients particularly in the heart.
This finding was backed by other researches from various studies such as the Lancet which found that the use of hydroxychloroquine together with azithromycin increased the patient’s risk of a 30-day cardiovascular mortality which included chest pain and heart failure.
However, the CDC Ph has a different stand on the matter and stated that the negative outlook acquired by the medication is due to the wrong use of dosage among its patients.
Lopez said the recommended dosage of hydroxychloroquine should only be until 400mg as he said that this is the maximum amount taken usually by rheumatic patients.
“There are other studies that use extremely high doses for severe patients and the results are pretty negative,” he said.
The group also lobbied for the need to increase sources of other nutrients such as vitamin D, vitamin C, Quercetin and EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) which are also means to improve the immune system to fight the virus.
They further reiterated that with early treatment on a majority of the COVID cases in the country being mild and asymptomatic along with the use of their proposed medications, treatment at home will be possible which they claim reduces the chances of exposure to other people.
Earlier, experts from the OCTA Research group said that it is more advisable to initially stay in the general community quarantine (GCQ) before shifting to more laxed protocols such as under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MGCQ).
Dr. Guido David said that it is highly recommended especially for the National Capital Region who gained a decrease in its reported cases after the two week lockdown to continue with its stabilizing momentum.
The group stressed that only with a more manageable number of cases can the government reconsider opening more industries for the economy to fully recover.
In the latest data from the Department of Health, the country’s positivity rate is at 10.5 percent which is higher than the WHO recommendation of below five percent.
As of Thursday, the Philippines has reported over 272,000 cases of COVID-19 recoveries at more than 207,000 and a death toll of around 4,700.