DA to study efficacy of ivermectin, other agents vs. ASF

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 4) — The Department of Agriculture has created a team that will look into the efficacy of ivermectin and other agents to control the spread of African Swine Fever that has greatly affected the hog sector.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar issued Special Order no. 310 on April 30 that created the Research Team for ASF Control and Prevention that is assigned to formulate “research proposals on the use of ivermectin, ASF Buster, Cloud Feed and other potential products for the control and prevention of ASF.”

The team will also hold preliminary filed trials of said agents to produce science-based evidence as support to programs related to controlling and preventing the hog disease, as well as formulate policies guidelines in their use.

Moreover, the research team is tasked to “collaborate with international research institutions to conduct experiments to support claims in the use of ivermectin and other agents.”

Dr. Rene Santiago, OIC-assistant director for Production and Research of the Bureau of Animal Industry will lead the said program, while the technical advisers will be DA Undersecretary for livestock Dr. William Medrano, National Livestock Program Director Dr. Ruth Miclat-Sonaco, and BAI OIC-Director Dr. Reildrin Morales.

In the Philippines, health authorities have allowed the limited repurposing of the anti-parasitic drug used on animals on COVID-19 patients, despite warnings from experts on the drug’s unproven efficacy against the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the DA said it started its trials on a vaccine against ASF. The department said it is working with a US vaccine company and a global health group Zeotis.

The trials started on April 23 in 10 commercial farms and will run for 84 days.

The spread of the hog disease caused a great dent on the country’s hog production, leading to the commodity’s price to spike, specifically in Metro Manila markets.

To address this, the government implemented a two-month price cap, followed by an order lowering tariffs on imported pork.

Amid doubts on the effect of cheap duties, senators held a hearing with the administration’s economic team to find a compromise on such policy, but still struggled to do so.