MANILA, Philippines — Manila Mayor Isko Moreno announced Tuesday that the city government will soon have its own supply of the much anticipated antiviral drug Bexovid, the world’s first generic version of Pfizer’s Paxlovid, which is used for the treatment of mild to moderate symptoms of Covid-19.
Updating the public via Facebook live, Moreno said the city’s application for a compassionate special permit (CSP) has been recently granted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), allowing the city government to procure Bexovid.
“Ako po ay nagpapasalamat sa ating mga kaibigan sa FDA at kanilang inaksyunan ng mabilis ang ating application. Hindi natin basta-basta magagamit ang mga gamot na ito sa Covid kung wala tayong CSP. With the agency’s approval, pwede na natin maibigay sa mga pasyente kapagka dumating na ang ating advanced order,” Moreno said.
The 47-year-old presidential aspirant said the antiviral drug will be made available to everyone in need, whether they are Manila residents or not. “Katulad ng ating ‘open door’ policy, matutulungan ng makabagong gamot na ito ang sinumang nangangailangan. Walang pulitika dito sapagkat buhay ang mahalaga.”
According to reports, Bexovid may be used for individuals with mild to moderate symptoms of Covid-19 from 12 years old and above. It can reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 88 to 89 percent when taken within three to five days from the onset of symptoms.
Earlier, the Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer also said the city of Manila has placed an advanced order of Paxlovid from Pfizer, which was first authorized for use in the United States. Pfizer is expected to apply for the emergency use authorization of its antiviral drug in the Philippines by the last week of January, according to FDA.
The procurement of the latest available anti-Covid medicine was just one of the many initiatives of the city government to control the spread of the virus and save people’s lives from the highly contagious disease.
Moreno has reiterated that non-Manila residents can avail of anti-Covid drugs from the Manila Health Department, which have sufficient supplies of Remdesivir, Tolicizumab, Baricitinib and Molnupiravir, the medicine currently in demand amid the current surge in Covid cases.
Since the surge of Covid-19 cases due to Omicron variant started early this month, Moreno and the Manila City government has embarked on an aggressive vaccination strategy by opening drive-thru vaccination sites at the Kartilya ng Katipunan for motorcycle riders employed by courier services; Luneta drive-thru booster shots for 4-wheel vehicles and the drive-thru booster shot at the Bagong Ospital ng Maynila for drivers of public utility vehicles (PUVs) including delivery vans.
Moreno has also urged returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and returning Filipinos infected with Covid-19 to avail of the services and resources being provided by the Manila Covid-19 Field Hospital in Luneta Park.
Moreno made the call after learning through news reports that returning OFWs and returning Filipinos are requesting that they be provided with free quarantine isolation if they turned out positive with Covid-19 in order for them not to incur additional expenses.
“Last December 31, we offered the Manila Covid-19 Field Hospital. Eh more than a hundred plus in one given time ang na-accommodate na OFW. So, kung halimbawa, kayo ay dumarating na, bumabalik na sa ating bansa, welcome kayo sa Maynila. We offer it for free. Meron doon naka-aircondition ‘yon, ganito ang mga hospital beds, may doktor, may nurse, may oxygen, may gamot, tapos may pagkain. Libre chicha 3x a day. Tapos wala kayong baayaran. Para ‘yung mga OFW, ‘yung mga ipon nila, hindi na masugatan pa,” Moreno said.
Moreno pointed out that OFWs and returning Filipinos who intend to avail of the services being provided by the Manila Covid-19 Field Hospital should just inform the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) that they should not be brought to hotels. “Sabihin nyo lang sa Bureau of Quarantine na huwag na kayong dalhin sa hotel. Pwede naman kayong mag-request eh. Hanggang kaya namin, tutulong kami,” he said.
The 344-bed capacity Manila Covid-19 Field Hospital was built in a record 52 days as part of Mayor Isko’s plan to combat Covid infections by providing sufficient hospital care with available medicines for patients having mild and moderate symptoms.
Moreno said providing OFWs and returning Filipinos with free isolation facility is their way of saying “Thank You” to those who provided the City of Manila with financial assistance. “Kasi as we all know, maraming tumulong sa Maynila na mga immigrants at saka OFW. Pinaldalhan kami nyan ng pera noong araw. Sabi nga, kung anong tinanim mo siyang aanihin mo,” he said.
The good thing about Manila right now, according to Moreno, is that they are managing quite well the Covid-19 situation through the conduct of non-stop testings, vaccinations, and booster shots of residents and even non-residents.
Moreno said he expects the Bagong Ospital ng Maynila to be fully operational by either April or May of this year. “Pinauna ko lang itong emergency room na ito, kung saka-sakali, na wag naman loobin ng Diyos, although malaki pa ang capacity ng Maynila, pero at least, a few months from now we’ll never know,” he said.