May 2, 2022 9:46 p.m.
WHO made a strong recommendation for nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, sold under the name Paxlovid, for mild and moderate COVID-19 patients at highest risk of hospital admission, calling it the best therapeutic choice for high-risk patients to date.
However, availability, lack of price transparency in bilateral deals made by the producer, and the need for prompt and accurate testing before administering it, are turning this life-saving medicine into a major challenge for low- and middle-income countries.
Pfizer’s oral antiviral drug (a combination of nirmatrelvir and ritonavir tablets) is strongly recommended for patients with non-severe COVID-19 who are at highest risk of developing severe disease and hospitalization, such as unvaccinated, older, or immunosuppressed patients.
This recommendation is based on new data from two randomized controlled trials involving 3078 patients.
The data show that the risk of hospitalization is reduced by 85% following this treatment. In a high-risk group (over 10% risk of hospitalization), that means 84 fewer hospitalizations per 1000 patients.
WHO suggests against its use in patients at lower risk, as the benefits were found to be negligible.
One obstacle for low- and middle-income countries is that the medicine can only be administered while the disease is at its early stages; prompt and accurate testing is therefore essential for a successful outcome with this therapy.
Data collected by FIND show that the average daily testing rate in low-income countries is as low as one-eightieth the rate in high-income countries. Improving access to early testing and diagnosis in primary health care settings will be key for the global rollout of this treatment.
WHO is extremely concerned that — as occurred with COVID-19 vaccines — low- and middle-income countries will again be pushed to the end of the queue when it comes to accessing this treatment.
Lack of transparency on the part of the originator company is making it difficult for public health organizations to obtain an accurate picture of the availability of the medicine, which countries are involved in bilateral deals and what they are paying.
In addition, a licensing agreement made by Pfizer with the Medicines Patent Pool limits the number of countries that can benefit from generic production of the medicine.
The originator product, sold under the name Paxlovid, will be included in the WHO prequalification list today, but generic products are not yet available from quality-assured sources.
Several generic companies (many of which are covered by the licensing agreement between the Medicines Pool and Pfizer) are in discussion with WHO Prequalification but may take some time to comply with international standards so that they can supply the medicine internationally.
WHO therefore strongly recommends that Pfizer make its pricing and deals more transparent and that it enlarge the geographical scope of its licence with the Medicines Patent Pool so that more generic manufacturers may start to produce the medicine and make it available faster at affordable prices.
Along with the strong recommendation for the use of nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, WHO has also updated its recommendation on remdesivir, another antiviral medicine.
Previously, WHO had suggested against its use in all COVID-19 patients regardless of disease severity, due to the totality of the evidence at that time showing little or no effect on mortality.
Following publication of new data from a clinical trial looking at the outcome of admission to hospital, WHO has updated its recommendation. WHO now suggests the use of remdesivir in mild or moderate COVID-19 patients who are at high risk of hospitalization.
The recommendation for use of remdesivir in patients with severe or critical COVID-19 is currently under review. (From World Health Organization)
There’s a Nanyang near you for all your Singaporean food cravings
August 4, 2023 6:30 p.m.
Missing Singapore’s famous Hainanese Chicken Rice, Laksa fishball, Cheesy Chicken Chop Noodles and Kopi?
Visit your nearest Nanyang Philippines branch.
Globe powers up TOYCON 2023’s landmark 20th year
June 29, 2023 6:53 p.m.
As Toycon Philippines proudly commemorates its 20th year, the landmark celebration promises to be more electrifying than ever with the formidable support of leading digital lifestyle brand Globe.
Globe has always been at the forefront of supporting diverse subcultures and passions, and this partnership is a testament to its commitment. As part of the collaboration, Globe will bring to life the rich world of its cinematic and theatrical partners, further enriching the TOYCON 2023 experience for attendees.
“As the country’s most reliable network and top digital solutions platform with an ecosystem of various services, we’re uniquely positioned to foster the vibrancy of the toy collecting and creating community. This partnership underscores our commitment to nurturing a wide array of passions and interests while ensuring the best connectivity for all participants.”
Cholo Mallillin, Marketing Head at Toycon Philippines, said: “The collaboration with Globe will further elevate the Toycon experience. This partnership will bring more surprises and rewards to our community. We invite everyone to join us as we celebrate 20 years of Toycon in the most exciting way possible.”
TOYCON 2023 will be held at the SMX Convention Center in MOA from July 7 to 9, 2023. Attendees are in for a treat, as they have the chance to meet their beloved childhood characters, explore an expansive marketplace of unique toys and collectibles, and participate in exclusive Globe activities.
One of the highlights of the partnership is a series of exclusive perks for Globe customers. By using Globe Rewards points, customers will have the opportunity to win various ticket tiers ranging from Day Passes to VIP Passes. There will also be exclusive toy freebies for VIP pass holders, and unique Globe-only activities, such as paint-your-own Gudi.
At the event, Globe will also host an interactive booth featuring activities designed to reward and inspire. From earning freebies by donating Rewards points to a good cause, to free arcade plays and meet-ups with popular streamers, Globe customers are in for an exciting weekend of gaming and beyond.
To learn more about Globe, visit https://www.globe.com.ph/.
Love the long weekend break? Cybercriminals do, too
April 4, 2023 5:11 p.m.
There are 18 official public holidays in the Philippines. As we all know, when these dates fall close to a weekend or if the government pursues holiday economics, most Filipinos make plans in advance to take advantage of extended holiday breaks. This year, we can get to do that at least 12 times.
Unfortunately, cybercriminals get excited about holidays, too. To refresh everyone’s memory, the $81-million Bangladesh Bank heist back in 2016 is an example of a successful cyber attack, which happened on the first day of Lunar New Year, a national holiday in the Philippines and the rest of Asia.
“Now that the world has reopened, travel is back with a vengeance this year, hence the term ‘travel revenge’. Whether Filipinos are scheduling holiday trips or just staycation-ing during the long weekends, it’s important to observe simple digital security practices so you can get to sit back and relax as you take your well-deserved vacation. Security-first thinking opens doors for a more enjoyable holiday break, especially for Filipinos who are amongst the world’s most active online users,” comments Chris Connell, Managing Director for Asia Pacific at Kaspersky.
Both individuals and companies are advised to be extra mindful of personal cybersecurity best practices and internet hygiene when on a holiday.
For companies, Kaspersky suggests to:
- Conduct drills
- Stress to vacationing employees why data encryption, two-factor authentication, strong passwords, and locking devices when not in use are important.
- Discuss the steps to take if their device ends up getting stolen.
- Advise staff about charging smartphones in a wall socket, not through USBs at airports and other public places (these can be used to steal data from a device and infect it with malicious software, such as spyware.
- Educate employees about the dangers of public WIFI (and even hotel WIFI unless it is encrypted and password-protected) and how to use a secure connection such as with a VPN.
- Log out
- Terminate unnecessary VPN connections to the corporate infrastructure.
- End unnecessary sessions that employees have left on any devices for an extended period of time. This also applies to corporate messengers, web apps and any other services.
- Check that the list of employees with access to the corporate network via VPN or RDP include only authorized users. Revoke access from those who don’t need it.
- Create special “emergency” admin accounts for potential incident response over the holidays. The rights granted to regular admin accounts can even be temporarily restricted so that attackers cannot exploit them.
- Install patches for all key applications. This process is far simpler if your company uses security solutions with a built-in patch management system.
Meanwhile, Kaspersky encourages individuals to:
- Only browse trusted apps and websites and be careful about personal information you input like credit card numbers or home address.
- Do not click on links or open email attachments from travel sites when receiving confirmations. Trusted companies include such letters in the bodies of their emails. Malware is often disguised as an attached confirmation letter.
- Bring two or three or more credit or debit cards to have a backup plan in case of loss or needing to cancel one.
- Never leave valuables unattended. Put large amounts of cash and mobile devices or laptops in the hotel safe.
- Use a credit card as most have built-in protections against fraud. There is no protection against a scammer if you send them cash or even check or debit card payment in some cases. A money transfer service is not advisable.
- Ensure their devices has security software installed, ideally with anti-theft technology.