Cheaper oral drugs vs COVID-19 Delta variant available this month | Inquirer Opinion
Sharp Edges

Cheaper oral drugs vs COVID-19 Delta variant available this month

/ 04:00 AM November 02, 2021

The numbers of new and active COVID-19 cases continue to drop like a rock nationwide. On Monday, the National Capital Region and all LGUs have been classified as low-risk. Latest Metro-wide indicators are very low; positivity rate is at 5 percent (within WHO standard), reproduction number or R-naught is at 0.53 (WHO standard is 1.0), health care utilization is at 30 percent (low) while total Attack Daily Average Rate (ADAR) is at a very low 5.72 per 100,000 with just 500 new cases per day from 5,638 in September.

Experts say we are witnessing “enough immunity” dominating the entire country due to vaccines and “natural immunity”. Government expects nationwide herd immunity by February, 2022, but its present vaccination speed of only 587,000 a day points to an April finish. And we have to rush because looking at daily death figures, the virus becomes deadlier on the “unvaccinated” population.


MMDA chair Benhur Abalos says Metro Manila surpassed the 70 percent “herd immunity” population threshold and is now at 80 percent. He expects to reach 84 percent of fully vaccinated individuals this November. These “protected NCR population” and the 832,905 COVID-19 survivors have all developed natural immunity against the virus. NCR daily death rates today are at a minimal 3 to 6.

Today, scientists are seeing patterns of Delta Spike staying approximately 4 months long (Start-peak-end) in every country in the world, like in India, USA and Indonesia. The Philippines, some say, is already past the spike unlike other ASEAN nations.


But the best news to come is the availability of two inexpensive oral targeted anti-viral medicines, proven effective in clinical trials and published in highly respected scientific journals. These oral drugs, together with the increasing “immunity” of our countrymen, will further intensify efforts to finally control and shut out the pandemic.

First of this is the anti-depressant Fluvoxamine, an easy to take pill for newly infected COVID-19 patients. The October 27 issue of Lancet Global Health says a 10-day course of Luvox (Fluvoxamine) cut hospitalizations by two-thirds and reduced death by 91 percent. This existing medicine used by millions of people for two to three decades is available at every pharmacy in the US and a 10-day course costs only $10. I was also told that Luvox (Fluvoxamine) is widely prescribed here as an “anti-depressant”(SSRI-Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor).

The second oral treatment is Merck’s anti-viral drug Molnupiravir, granted a Compassionate Special Permit by DOH-FDA in September. This “oral COVID-19 drug capsule” registered an 81-percent efficacy on 1,200 mild COVID-19 cases in clinical trials in India. After five days of continuous intake, 921 patients tested negative in their RT-PCR tests. Its importer, Jack Pharma Inc., announced that Molnupiravir will be available to the public this month. Estimated cost is between P100 and P130 per 200-mg capsule.

Yes, the virus will still be around, but this time, unlike two years ago, our doctors, medical front liners and citizens are better protected by effective medicines at all stages of COVID-19. For newly infected, one can take the cheaper Luvox for ten days or choose the more expensive Molnupiravir for five days. Both effective treatments will keep the “symptomatics” and the milds out of the hospitals. If a patient gets serious or critical, available and effective anti-COVID-19 drugs— although still experimental—are the anti-Ebola drug Remdesivir and the repurposed rheumatoid arthritis Tocilizumab.

On another note, the common fear of another stronger and deadlier COVID-19 variant emerging after Delta was also downplayed by experts, simply because Delta is its COVID-19’s most potent, most infectious with the highest reproduction number.

These positive developments point to a decreasing fear against this virus which has already killed 43,276 Filipinos and infected 2,790,735. Before Christmas and New Year, this low and vanishing risk of death will be further lessened struck by natural immunity and available oral vaccines. And the inevitable will happen, this pandemic will become a “treatable and far less deadly disease” than seasonal flu and pneumonia.

Subscribe to our opinion newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: column, COVID-19, Jake maderazo, opinion
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

Subscribe to our opinion columns

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and
acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2022 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.