CLINICAL trials for the Japanese anti-flu drug Avigan as treatment for coronavirus did not start on September 1 as planned, according to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire.

“Nagkakaroon tayo ng delays dito sa mga (We have delays in the) ethics review among the different identified hospitals,” Ms. Vergeire said in an online briefing.

The participating hospitals where the reviews have yet to be finalized are Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, Sta. Ana Hospital, and Quirino Memorial and Medical Center.

The memorandum of agreement for Philippine General Hospital, on the other hand, is still under legal review by the University of the Philippines-Manila.

Ms. Vergeire said last month that Avigan will be given to a hundred patients aged 18 to 74.

Participants will have to agree to the use of contraceptives, and should have no kidney and heart problems, among other requirements, she said.

Japan said in April that  it will send the medicine manufactured by Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co., Ltd. to 38 countries, including the Philippines after clinical trials.

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 2,218 new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections on September 2, raising the country’s total to 226,440.

The death toll rose by 27 to 3,623 while recoveries increased by 609 to 158,610.

Metro Manila still had the highest number of new reported cases with 1,163, followed by Laguna with 112.

Three provinces in the Visayas ranked 3rd to 5th: Cebu with 107; Iloilo, 82; and Negros Occidental, 81.

There were 64,207 active cases nationwide, 91.2% of which were mild, 6.4% did not show symptoms, 1% were severe, and 1.4% were critical.

Of the new deaths, 10 were from Metro Manila, eight from Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Luzon), four from Western Visayas, and one each from Central and Eastern Visayas, and a repatriate.

Individuals tested for COVID-19 were at around 2.4 million, the Health department said.

The confirmed cases came from tests done by 102 out of the 110 licensed laboratories. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas