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)
A star is born: NU Lady Bulldog Belen makes history as UAAP’s 1st Rookie of Year/MVP
June 21, 2022 6:34 p.m.
Mhicaela Belen was hailed as the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball tournament Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player – making her the first-ever in the league’s long history.
National University’s Belen was just everywhere, leading the league in the service department at 0.47 per set, while also placing second in spiking with a 38.96 success rate, and third in scoring with 203 points in the elimination round.
With her outstanding all-around offensive prowess, she also bagged the 1st Best Outside Hitter as well.
Her defense was top-notch as well, going sixth in reception at a 40.85 efficiency rate while being eighth in digs at 2.38 per set.
Belen also knotted Dzi Gervacio’s record in most service aces in a single match with eighth. She did it against University of the Philippines last June 4.
The undefeated Lady Bulldogs dominated the other individual awards as well with Camilla Lamina and Jen Nierva copping Best Setter and Best Libero plums. Alyssa Solomon won the Best Opposite Spiker award.
Lamina tallied 5.81 excellent sets per set, while Nierva registered a 55.96 receiving percentage and 4.4 digs per set. Solomon had 145 spikes on a 38.98 percent success rate.
De La Salle University’s Thea Gagate emerged as this year’s 1st Best Middle Blocker with 0.6 blocks per set and 30 total blocks, while Lady Bulldog Sheena Toring got the 2nd Best Middle Blocker with an average of 0.47 per set and 22 total blocks.
Ateneo de Manila University’s Faith Nisperos nabbed the 2nd Best Outside Hitter trophy to round out the awardees, delivering 228 total spikes on a 34.86 percent success rate.
All of the student-athletes in the All-UAAP team are products of Nazareth School-National University.
NBA to refurbish basketball court in Bulacan as part of league’s 75th anniversary celebration
June 17, 2022 8:10 p.m.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) today announced it will dedicate a new NBA Cares Live, Learn or Play center in the Philippines with a basketball court refurbishment at the Enchanted Farm village of Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation, Inc. (GK), a local non-profit organization that aims to alleviate poverty through affordable housing and community development programs, in Angat, Bulacan.
The project, which is part of the leaguewide NBA 75th Live, Learn or Play initiative to create and dedicate more than 50 new NBA Cares Live, Learn or Play Centers during the 2021-22 season, will begin this month and the refurbished court will be presented to the GK community in August with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and youth basketball clinic.
“The NBA’s mission is to inspire and connect people everywhere through the power of basketball and create a lasting impact in the communities where we operate,” said NBA Asia Managing Director Ramez Sheikh.
“The Philippines has been an integral part of the league’s 75-year history, and this initiative with Gawad Kalinga reinforces our commitment to bringing Filipinos together through their shared love of the game.”
NBA Cares is the league’s global social responsibility program that builds on the NBA’s mission of addressing important social issues in the U.S. and around the world. Internationally, NBA Cares has created more than 357 places where kids and families can live, learn, or play in 40 countries and territories.
In July 2017, the NBA revamped an indoor court in Santa Mesa, Manila which was part of a regional NBA Cares initiative that refurbished courts across Southeast Asia.
Newest Reveal in Pokémon series: Pokémon Scarlet, Pokémon Violet coming in November
June 4, 2022 7:02 p.m.
The Pokémon Company is pleased to announce the official release date of Nintendo Switch software titles Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet on Friday, November 18, 2022. The scheduled release will reveal a new cover art with the legendary Pokémon Koraidon and Miraidon!
Appearing in these new titles, the new legendary Pokémon Koraidon and Miraidon are on each cover. The title logos are embellished with foil stamp-like designs that include Legendary Pokémon motifs. The packages of these games look similar to old book covers that evoke anticipation that a new story lies before you that’s about to begin.
Legendary Pokémon Koraidon and Miraidon
Koraidon is a legendary Pokémon that you can meet in Pokémon Scarlet, while Miraidon is a legendary Pokémon you can meet in Pokémon Violet. These two Pokémon are said to have powers that far surpass those of other Pokémon, however, details about Koraidon and Miraidon are still shrouded in mystery.
The World of the Pokémon has Evolved
Pokémon is a game for all ages and Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet are the first open-world RPGs in the series. As you enjoy the hallmarks of the series—meeting, teaming up with, battling, training, and trading Pokémon—you’ll also be able to immerse yourself in a newly evolved adventure.
In an unbound adventure spread across an open world, Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet offer you an open-world experience that only the Pokémon series can deliver—one that is welcoming even to newcomers to the series.
You can experience a new style of adventure in a world where you’re free to explore at your leisure, unhampered by following a story. You will, of course, have to embark on a journey to hone your skills as a Pokémon Trainer, but many more discoveries and stories await you. You will be able to meet a variety of people and Pokémon, and have new adventures in the world of Pokémon the way you want to.
For deeper experience with multiplayer gameplay, Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet allow multiplayer gameplay with up to four players. Along with series staples, such as trading and battling Pokémon, you will be able to explore the various locations of the region in these games with other players. You can discover new Pokémon and explore unfamiliar areas with your friends and family, opening the door to an adventure more precious and fun than ever!
New Pokémon and Characters to Meet
Three Pokémon from which you’ll choose your first partner have been revealed: Sprigatito, Fuecoco, and Quaxl. With their unique personalities and abilities in battle, imagine how your own adventures with them might unfold!
Sprigatito is capricious and attention-seeking. It may sulk if it sees its Trainer giving attention to a Pokémon other than itself.
A Kneading Move That Releases a Sweet Aroma
When Sprigatito kneads and rubs with its forepaws, a sweet aroma is released that can mesmerize those around it. This aroma has therapeutic qualities and makes opponents lose their will to battle.
Fur with a Similar Composition to Plants
The composition of its fluffy fur is similar to that of plants, letting it create energy by absorbing sunlight. It adds moisture to its fur by grooming itself, which aids its ability to photosynthesize.
Fuecoco is laid-back and does things at its own pace. It loves to eat, and it will sprint toward any food it finds with a glint in its eye.
Scales That Absorb Heat
External heat is absorbed by the square scales on Fuecoco’s stomach and back, then converted into fire energy. These scales are always warm, and at times they can also grow very hot.
Overflowing Fire Energy
Flickering atop Fuecoco’s head is fire energy that is leaking out from inside the Pokémon’s body. When Fuecoco gets excited, its head spouts more flames.
Quaxly is a serious-mannered Pokémon that will follow in its Trainer’s wake. It’s tidy, and it especially dislikes getting its head dirty.
A Glossy Gel Protects Its Body
Its body is always glossy because the gel secreted by its feathers repels water and grime. The coif on its head is slicked back using a rich, moist cream, and it becomes unkempt when dry.
It Uses Its Strong Legs to Swim Freely
It has strong legs and is able to swim without difficulty even in places with strong currents. In battle, it kicks its opponents swiftly and repeatedly.
Two different professors—their appearance depends on the version of the game
For the first time in the series, one of two different professors will appear in your game depending on the version you choose to play.
In Pokémon Scarlet, you will meet Professor Sada, and in Pokémon Violet, you will meet Professor Turo. Each is carrying out research into certain lore passed down in the region.
Nemona, a powerful Pokémon Trainer
Your friend and rival, Nemona, has a sunny and energetic disposition, and she absolutely loves Pokémon battles. She’s an experienced Pokémon Trainer and serves as a reliable guide for you on your adventures. She has undisputed skill in battle—though it does also seem that she’s not the best at throwing Poké Balls.
In Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet, Nemona uses three never-before-seen Pokémon waiting to meet you.
Pawmi has electricity-discharging organs on its forepaws. In addition to the electric sacs in its cheeks, Pawmi has electricity-discharging organs on its forepaws. It generates electricity by rubbing its cheeks, then it shocks its opponents by touching them with the pads on its forepaws.
Thick Fur That Stores Electricity
Not only is the fur that covers its body good insulation against the cold, but it also serves the purpose of storing electricity. When it feels uneasy, this cautious Pokémon will begin rubbing its cheeks, preparing itself to discharge an electric shock.
Lechonk is a gourmand with an excellent nose. It uses its sense of smell to find and eat only the most fragrant wild grass and the richest Berries. As a result of its dining habits, it has come to radiate an aroma resembling herbs that bug Pokémon dislike.
Timid and Fainthearted—but Also Strong
If attacked by an opponent and startled, it will charge forward in a panic. It may appear fat at first glance, but in reality, the Pokémon’s body is mostly muscle built by constantly walking around in search of food.
Smoliv has oil so bitter and astringent it will make you flinch. The oil that comes out of its head has a very strong bitter taste, and it is not suitable for consumption. When startled or attacked, Smoliv will shoot this oil out, slowing its opponent down. It will then seize that moment to run away.
Fine without Eating or Drinking
In the fruit on its head, Smoliv stores oil made from nutrients it gathers through photosynthesis. As a result, it can go for a week without eating or drinking. It prefers dry and sunny climates, and it seems to spend its days sunbathing.
A Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet Double Pack is set for Release
Moreover, a Double Pack that includes a Pokémon Scarlet game and a Pokémon Violet game will be released on the same day as the individual games.