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DOH exec: COVID-19 treatment improved, death rate down to 1.6%

Philippine clinical management treatment modalities for COVID-19 have greatly improved overtime

A Department of Health official said Saturday that the Philippine clinical management and treatment modalities for COVID-19 have greatly improved overtime, pushing case mortality rate from 5 down to 1.6 percent lately.

But DOH Undersecretary and COVID-19 treatment czar Leopoldo "Bong" Vega, MD, pointed out that the coronavirus disease 2019 cure, as in other illnesses, should be the last resort in tackling a health crisis, prevention is still the first line of defense.

Interviewed on Dobol B sa News TV, Usec. Vega said Philippine clinical practice and management have improved a lot in the battle against the virus.

He cited two treatment modalities that are being seen to have helped moderate- to severe-COVID patients improve their survival rate.

For one, "Para sa moderate to severe cases, we are giving Remdesivir. Lumalabas na nakakatulong siya sa mga pasyente na nasa ICU, mas madali silang gumaling," he said.

Another is the "high-flow oxygen" machine that can deliver up to 50- gauge oxygen flow compared to an oxygen tank that can deliver only up to 15-gauge.

"It is also much better than intubation," he added.

The coronavirus causes inflammation of air pipes in the lungs, thereby cutting off the supply of oxygen to the blood.

Pumping enough oxygen into the body could help patients survive and get well, he said.

Treatment is very expensive

Despite improvements in clinical practice and management of COVID-19 cases, Usec. Vega underscored that the most critical factor in dealing with the disease is prevention, and our behavior in line with it.

"Ang treatment pang huli na 'yan. Ang pinaka-critical factor talaga ay ang behavior natin sa prevention, dahil male-lessen ang transmission ng virus upang hindi na aabot sa gamutan na mas expensive," Vega said.

Remdesivir costs P6,000 to P8,000 per vial and moderate to severe cases need 11 vials, he said.

Also, the high-flow oxygen machine is a lot more expensive than face masks, face shield, and disinfectants, and doing social distancing and other behavioral measures to prevent the spread of the disease. —LBG, GMA News