Amid the corona scare across the world, Jaipur’s SMS Hospital came to limelight as its team of doctors cured three of the four patients admitted there with a novel combination of drugs. Rajesh Asnani speaks to Dr Prakash Keswani, Senior Professor at the Department of Medicine and head of the team that treated the patients:
Can you share a few details about the first two patients your team treated?
It was February 29 when the patient, earlier admitted to Fortis hospital, was sent to our hospital. He had cough and fever and had all the symptoms of corona. We sent his samples for testing for corona as well as for swine flu. Both reports were negative. Then on March 2, we got his next sample which was positive for coronavirus. There was no recommended drug for it, so we thought antiviral drugs can have some effect on this disease. We combined three antiviral drugs of swine flu, malaria and HIV and also gave antibiotics for secondary infection.
How did the patients respond to medicines?
It was our good luck that both he and his wife responded to our treatment in just four days. We are monitoring the situation many times a day.
When did you decide to use anti-HIV drugs for treatment? Were these drugs the ones that did the trick?
After the Italian patient tested positive, we studied medical literature and consulted other experts. Nobody had used these drugs for this virus, so we were closely monitoring for side-effects.
Based on your success, is there any information that you would like to share?
The real success will be when these patients become totally asymptomatic and get discharged. Currently, the third person is still critical and fourth has been admitted recently. Hopefully, they will also come out healthy.
We heard that six states have asked you to share your treatment formula. Which are these six states?
We have been getting many calls from different states. We are sharing our experiences.
Diabetics are among the most vulnerable to COVID. As a diabetologist who has treated two elderly
Patients with corona, what advice would you like to give?
The virus is only going to spread in the coming days, so my advice is not to get into a panic mode. Only a small percentage of patients who are old or diabetic have high risk. Diabetes reduces immunity and slows down recovery. People with lung diseases are also at high risk. People with low immunity should take care and look to improve their health.
The way the virus spread in countries like Iran, China and Italy, what risk do you see for a country like India?
If you see the spread of the disease in other countries we are in Phase 2 (local transmission). In the next phase, thousands of people may get infected. We should not be relaxed, it is a big threat.