State doctors pin hope on Australian varsity’s findings

IMPHAL, 10th Jun: Shifting from the earlier treatment protocol of Covid-19 patients as per ICMR protocol, which is followed by AIIMS, health authority in the state is now adopting a recent finding of an Australian University in the treatment of Covid positive patients and they are seeing potential success without much side effect.
Earlier, the state health authority followed ICMR protocol and used Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) not only for prophylaxis (preventive) purpose but also for treatment of patients in the absence of any cure or vaccine. But using the drug, which is used in the treatment of Malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune diseases like lupus, has its own side effects and high level of cautiousness is needed to administer this drug, whose effectiveness is still debated.
According to a recent report by ‘The Lancet’ retracted a paper that had suggested the drug increased the death rate in COVID-19 patients, a finding that had stopped many clinical trials on their track. Now, three large studies, two in people exposed to the virus and at risk of infection and the other in severely ill patients, show no benefit from the drug, the report stated. Besides, HCQ has been found to be associated with dangerous side-effects in the past if the dosage is not carefully controlled.
Considering the risks, state health authority shifted its focus on a finding of an Australian University and started using an anti-parasitic drug called Ivermectin along with doses of antibiotic drug Azithromycin. Apart from the drugs, doctors are providing the patients breakfast and food supplements rich in Zinc, Vitamin B Complex and Vitamin C. This was disclosed by RIMS medical superintendent Dr Ch Arunkumar during a live programme on a local TV channel recently.
The doctor also said that most of the patients are in their prime and it is fortunate that they are pretty responsive to the treatment provided to them. Maximum of the patients are asymptomatic while only a handful shows mild symptoms. Apart from the drugs and nutrient-rich diets, doctors check their body temperature and oxygen level (SpO2) in the blood twice. A normal SpO2 reading is typically between 95 to 100 per cent but a reading below 95 is considered risky so doctors keep tab on the SpO2 level to see if any patient requires assisted breathing in order to enhance oxygen level in their bloods.
“Though we are not in a randomised controlled study, we think that the treatment option is showing good results,” professor Arunkumar said during the TV programme. He also told that testing capacity of the state increased significantly. Earlier, there used to be huge pile-up of samples for testing but it has been reduced to three or four days at maximum. Besides, the government is also planning to procure a large RT-PCR machine and once it arrives, the testing capacity will be enhanced significantly.
A collaborative study led by Monash University's Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) in Melbourne, Australia, with the Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute), has shown that Ivermectin stopped the SARS-CoV-2 virus growing in cell culture within 48 hours.
Ivermectin is an FDA-approved wide-spectrum anti-parasitic and antiviral drug that has also been shown to be effective in vitro against a broad range of viruses including HIV, Dengue, Influenza and Zika. However, the research team cautioned that the tests conducted in the study were in vitro and that trials needed to be carried out in people. Apart from the study, Bangladesh is also using the drug along with antibiotic drug doxycycline and they are reporting potential success in reducing the viral load in patients thereby making it possible for the patients to recover sooner.
Meanwhile, source said that the duration for clinical recovery of Covid-19 patients in the state is between 10 to 14 days which is more or less same with anywhere else in the world. According to WHO, the duration for clinical recovery of mild patients is around two weeks and those of severe or critical patients ranges from three to seven weeks.
Till 11.45 pm of Tuesday, the two VRDLs at RIMS and JNIMS had conducted 19854 tests and the test rate now stands at 6966 per million population.
Rate of positive results is 1.56 per cent and recovery rate has reduced from over 30 per cent about four days ago to around 20 per cent as on Tuesday. So far, 39 patients have been discharged from RIMS and 22 from JNIMS till Tuesday. Disturbingly, the doubling duration is only three days as per latest tally of positive cases in the state.

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