Tocilizumab an antibody drug approved by the WHO to treat COVID-19 patients has arrived in country.
On Thursday 19th May, The World Health Organization handed over to the Ministry of Health a box of the COVID-19 injection Tocilizumab worth USD$18,404.49 (Approximately SBD150,000).
At the hand over, Dr Stephanie Fletcher-Lartey, WHO COVID-19 Advisor said that this drug has been approved in the treatment of COVID-19 due to its anti-inflammatory properties in some countries as early as June 2021.
“It was only added to the WHO list of prequalified treatment for severe and critical COVID-19 on 11th of February 2022. It was later made available to WHO member countries through the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which enables equitable access or distribution of COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines”.
“Solomon Islands was amongst 10 other Pacific Island Countries that received allocation of the drug through the ACT Accelerator partnership platform in their first release and as such became the first country in the Pacific Region to receive the shipment of these essential drugs” explained Dr Fletcher-Lartey.
The drug has been endorsed in March 2022 by the National Medicines and Therapeutic Committee for use in country. The drug will be administered by health workers in a monitored clinical setting along with current standard of care for COVID-19 which includes oxygen and other medications.
In receiving the drugs, Dr Gregory Jilini, Health’s Deputy Secretary for Health Services said that though country have passed the 1st wave and Honiara already passed the peak of the 2nd wave, province are still recording increases in number of cases indicating that are yet to reach the peak.
“Therefore, risk to health and lives of elderlies, those with underlying health conditions and health risk behaviors still remains. These drugs will enable our clinicians to better treat severe and critical cases of COVID-19 from this 2nd wave and possible future waves”.
He however cautioned that this drug does not cure someone from COVID-19. It simply adds to the list of medications that can be used to treat COVID-19 severe and critical patients. “Therefore, those not yet vaccinated must still get it done”, urged Dr Jilini.