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'Anti-body' treatment vs. COVID-19 still under study, says DOH


Medical experts are still studying the effectiveness of anti-body treatments against COVID-19, the Department of Health said on Wednesday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire made the remark a day after President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that an anti-body medicine against COVID-19 will be rolled out in May.

Duterte even said that he would lift the Luzon-wide quarantine once the tratment becomes available in the country.

“Ang antibody po ay natural na ginagawa ng ating katawan upang labanan ang mga mikrobyo at iba pang organismo na nagdudulot ng karamdaman,” Vergeire said.

“Tulad po ng ibang gamot, ang mga ito (antibody treatments) ay pinagaaralan pa ng ating mga doktor at mga eksperto kung ito ay magiging mabisa laban sa COVID-19.”

Vergeire said antibody treatments for COVID-19 referred to convalescent plasma therapy and drugs similar to antibodies.

The Philippine General Hospital was the first healthcare facility in the country to attempt convalescent plasma therapy, where the plasma of COVID-19 survivors is transfused to infected patients.

“Ang plasma na may antibodies mula sa naka-recover na pasyente ay sinasalin o tinatransfuse sa isang pasyente na kasalukuyang infected ng virus para tulungan na mapabilis ang paglaban niya sa sakit na ito,” the undersecretary said.

Some of the drugs that are said to treat COVID-19, meanwhile, are tocilizumab at sarilumab, which are used for rheumatoid arthritis.

“Ang mga ito po… ay isang uri ng antibody na mino-modify para po maging katulad ng antibody ng isang tao,” Vergeire said.

Antibody-based tests

Aside from the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines, rapid test kits can also be used to test individuals for COVID-19.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier explained that PCR-based tests are the “gold standard” in COVID-19 testing since it can detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease.

Rapid test kits, on the other hand, can only detect the antibodies produced by the human body to combat COVID-19. They are also prone to false positives or false negatives despite being able to yield results faster than PCR-based tests.

Vergeire explained that the body produces two antibodies to fight COVID-19.

The first antibody, called IgM, is released five to seven days after infection.

The second, named IgG, comes out after 21 days.

“Kung positibo sa IgM, ibig sabihin po nito, ongoing ang karamdaman ng isang tao at maaaring nakakahawa po siya sa iba,” the health official said.

“Kung positibo naman ang IgG, ibig sabihin naman po nito ay patapos na ang karamdaman at nagsisimula na pong mag-develop ng immunity ang ating katawan,” she added.
The number of recovered COVID-19 patients in the Philippines surpassed the death toll on Wednesday after the DOH reported 353 recoveries and 349 deaths out of 5,453 cases. https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/734128/philippines-covid-19-recoveries-overtake-deaths-as-cases-leap-to-5-453/story/

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