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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Need to invest more to develop good antiviral against Covid: AIIMS director

He was speaking as part of a panel on emerging Covid-19 treatment therapies along with other leading doctors from the country.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: August 26, 2021 3:01:26 am
Dr Randeep Guleria

We need to invest in research for antivirals or drugs that can be used in treatment against Covid-19, said AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria on Wednesday. He was speaking as part of a panel on emerging Covid-19 treatment therapies along with other leading doctors from the country.

“Over 18 months, our treatment strategy has evolved because we started off with a novel virus about which we really didn’t know much. And therefore a lot of empirical therapy and repurposed drugs were used. We are still using a lot of repurposed drugs rather than any specific antiviral for Covid-19. And unfortunately, a lot of investment went into vaccine development but we didn’t really invest that much into research for antivirals or a drug which could have been effective against the virus…I really think that we need to push more in research in developing good antiviral drug; along with the vaccine, we need to have good drugs which are effective, which can be given easily to patients and are useful in the long run. We don’t have such a drug as of now,” said Dr Guleria.

Running through the various drugs which have been propped up as part of Covid treatment, he said, “I think we have found that the bottom line is that you really need to be sure of when to give which drug and when to not give…because early use of steroids in mild cases have led to problems as we know. Giving remdesivir is not indicated in early disease…There are people giving a cocktail of steroids, remdesivir and anticoagulants on day one to people without hypoxia and at home… the timing of the drug is as important as the drug.”

The panelists were all, however, optimistic about the use of monoclonal antibodies, with Dr Shashank Joshi from Lilavati Hospital and Research Centre stating that many lives could have been saved if it would have been available at the start of the second wave.

“Monoclonal activities have some very compelling data based on some very elegant trials, fundamentally for people at risk…In them if you administer it, there could be the likelihood of saving a life…the ideal time to use it is in 48-72 hours. Unfortunately most of the patients that end up with doctors like us come after this time has lapsed… Unfortunately, the drug came to India when the second wave was receding. Most of the cases were receding but still, whatever little we used in vulnerable cases, we clearly saw some impressive results…,” he said.

Dr Padmanabha Shenoy, medical director (CARE), also stated that they have had positive results with using monoclonal antibodies on people with autoimmune disorders, who did not develop adequate immune response even after vaccination.

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