THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) said it will conduct research on the effectiveness of various drugs in controlling African Swine Fever (ASF), including Ivermectin, a treatment for parasitic roundworm infections recently touted as a potential treatment for coronavirus patients.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar signed Special Order No. 310 on April 30 that set up an inter-agency research team that will generate proposals on the use of various drugs in containing the ASF outbreak.

“(It will) prepare research proposals on the use of Ivermectin, ASF Buster, Cloud Feed and other potential products for the control and prevention of ASF,” Mr. Dar said in the order.

Ivermectin is a veterinary drug that is used for the treatment of animal intestinal parasites, fleas and mites. The drug has a human grade version that is thought to boost immunity via the eradication of parasites, thus boosting immunity and aiding patients being treated for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The Department of Health has said that there is inadequate evidence to recommend the use of the drug as COVID-19 treatment.

In a mobile phone message, Agriculture Undersecretary William C. Medrano said the Ivermectin trials will be separate from the ongoing ASF vaccine trials. 

“We just approved the trial design and the team to implement. We will try to have preliminary results in three to four months,” Mr. Medrano said.

On April 23, the DA started initial ASF vaccine trials in 10 commercial hog farms previously affected by ASF. The trials were conducted together with animal health company Zoetis Philippines, Inc., and a United States vaccine company which the DA did not identify.

The DA said Zoetis is the major collaborator of the experimental ASF vaccine, which reduced hog deaths in early trials in other countries.

According to the DA, the ASF vaccine trials will be conducted and observed by the Bureau of Animal personnel and veterinarians for 84 days.

ASF is a severe and highly contagious hemorrhagic viral disease in pigs that poses no health§v risk to humans. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave