Since the Health ministry on Saturday approved the antiviral drug Remdesivir for treating Covid-19 patients, doctors from PGIMER confirmed that they will also use the medicine if and when it is available in market.
The antiviral medicine, is most efficiently used in early to moderate stage of the onset of the disease in a patient. The institute has also successfully completed a convalescent plasma therapy trial on Friday and the health ministry has approved plasma therapy as an early form of intervention for Covid-19 treatment as well.
As for Remdesivir, a doctor from PGIMER looking after the treatment of Covid-19 patients at the Nehru Extension block explained that the medicine’s use is largely similar to the use of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). “They are both basically antiviral drugs, which are most useful when administered to a patient at the time when the viral load is replicating itself in the patient. This is an early stage of the onset of the disease,” explained Dr Pankaj Malhotra, from the Department of Internal Medicine at PGI, adding that the two can mostly be used interchangeably.
Warning against self-medication
However, the doctor warned again self-administration of anti-viral drugs as a prophylactic. “We administer these drugs to patients after analysing their body’s vitals. We have to study each case separately before deciding the stage they are at and the course of medication that is best suited for them,” said Dr Malhotra.
Dr Malhotra also warned of the potential hazardous side effects on HCQ on certain patients. “Some have reportedly died after eating HCQ due to heart arrhythmia. Beyond that, others feel nauseous and even faint as a side effect. It also has a long-term impact on people’s eyesight. So, it is best to have it only on medical advice,” said the doctor.
Medicine for severe cases
In the post viral period of the disease, the aftermath of the infection is felt by the body, which leads to symptoms of the disease to manifest. Such patients cannot be treated using anti-viral drugs or convalescent plasma therapy.
“When patients come to us at a later stage of the disease, they usually have to be placed on oxygen support and steroid treatment. These are the patients who have more severe post viral effect on their body,” said Dr Malhotra. The post viral stage commonly manifests five to seven days after the onset of the virus.
Steroids and immunosuppressive drugs such as Tocilizumab are used in Covid-19 patients with more severe inflammation in their bodies. “Tociizumab is a very expensive drug which is not easily available in the market, so we often have to rely on other immunosuppresses to treat inflammation in patients,” said Dr Malhotra.
Tocilizumab has also been recently approved by the government for ‘restricted use’ in critically ill Covid-19 patients.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines