The Union Health Ministry has included the use of anti-viral drug Remdesivir as part of “investigational therapy” only for restricted emergency-use in its updated Clinical Management Protocol for Covid-19 patients, which was released on Saturday. Off-label application of immunomodulator tocilizumab and convalescent plasma therapy for treating coronavirus patients in moderate stage of criticality, have also been approved by the ministry.
Two keys symptoms like the loss of smell (anosmia) and loss of taste (ageusia) have also been added to the list of coronavirus symptoms by the Union Health Ministry. Earlier, during the onset of the disease, several cases were reported where the patients had displayed a loss of smell or taste.
In the new set of protocols, the ministry has removed its earlier recommendation of using hydroxychloroquine in combination with azithromycin in severe cases and requiring ICU management. The health ministry in its revised ‘Clinical Management Protocols for COVID-19’, released yesterday, said anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) should only be used in the early stages of the disease and should be avoided in critical cases.
“As is the case with other anti-virals, this drug should be used as early in the disease course as possible to achieve any meaningful effect and should be avoided in patients with severe disease,” the document read.
Since no vaccine for coronavirus has been developed by any country so far, despite scientists working frantically to develop one, the Centre has said it is pursing some “investigational therapies”.
“Use of these drugs is subjected to limited availability in the country as of now. Currently, these drugs should only be used in a defined subgroup of patients,” the updated document said.
These medicines include Remdesivir, which can be taken under emergency; convalescent plasma therapy, tocilizumab and hydroxychloroquine.
Senior citizens, those who are over 60 years of age are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. Among them, those with co-morbid conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiac disease, are also at high risk, according to the Health Ministry. So clarity on symptoms of the new disease and the recommended drugs which can be used to treat the novel coronavirus will not only help doctors in treating positive patients but also aid in identifying potential Covid-19 cases.