'Taking oxygen intermittently does not help COVID patients': Experts on COVID treatment

AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said more than 85 per cent of the COVID patients will recover without any specific treatment in the form of Remdesivir etc.

Published: 22nd April 2021 09:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd April 2021 09:14 AM   |  A+A-

People carry empty 0xygen cylinders for free refilling provided by Residence Welfare Association (RWA) of Turkman Gate, as COVID-19 case spike in New Delhi. (Photo | PTI)


NEW DELHI: Stating that "oxygen is like a drug" and taking it intermittently does not help, top doctors in the country highlighted on Wednesday that there is no data that shows that this will be of any assistance to COVID-19 patients and is, therefore, ill-advised.

AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said more than 85 per cent of the COVID patients will recover without any specific treatment in the form of Remdesivir etc.

"Most will have symptoms like common cold, sore throat etc. and over five to seven days, will recover with symptomatic treatment. Only 15 per cent may go to the moderate phase of the disease," he said.

Guleria said healthy individuals with oxygen saturation in the range of 93-94 per cent do not need to take high-flow oxygen just to maintain their saturation at 98-99 per cent, according to a statement issued by the health ministry.

Even those with a less than 94 per cent oxygen saturation need close monitoring.

"Oxygen is a treatment, it is like a drug," Guleria said to drive home the point that taking it intermittently is an absolute waste of oxygen.

"There is no data that shows that this will be of any help to the patients and is, therefore, ill-advised," he added.

Dr Naresh Trehan, chairman, Medanta Hospital, said the country has enough oxygen "if we try to use it judiciously".

He requested people not to use oxygen as a "security blanket".

Waste of oxygen will only lead to depriving someone who needs it, Trehan said, according to the statement.

Dr Devi Shetty, chairman, Narayana Health, noted that a saturation of above 94 per cent is not a problem and a doctor may be consulted if it dips after exercise or effortful work.

The three eminent doctors of the country addressed various issues related to a rational utilisation of Remdesivir, included in the category of investigational therapy under the health ministry's National Treatment Protocol, and use of oxygen for the treatment of COVID patients in hospitals.

They requested people to desist from seeing Remdesivir as a wonder drug.

Most of the COVID-positive patients in home isolation or hospitals do not need any specific treatment and only a small percentage would require Remdesivir, they said.

They said if oxygen and Remdesivir are used judiciously, there will be no shortage anywhere in the country.

In terms of the number of people who need oxygen and oxygen supply, "we are well balanced", they noted.

Trehan said his hospital has now made a protocol that Remdesivir is not to be given to everyone who tests positive for COVID-19.

It is to be given only after doctors look at the test results, symptoms and comorbidities of a patient.

Guleria said the vaccine is the key to beat the gloom that is usually associated with COVID.

"Although it may not prevent us from getting the infection, the vaccine prevents us from getting the disease in the form of severe illness," the statement quoted him as saying.

He advised against being in groups irrespective of somebody being infected and observed that cross-ventilation reduces the risk of infection in closed places.

Trehan said since a small percentage of COVID patients require hospitalisation, the hospital beds should be utilised judiciously and with responsibility.

Shetty advised to see a doctor if one tests positive for the disease.

He further advised not to panic if the report is positive as the problem can be solved provided one gets medical help at an early stage and follow doctors' instructions.


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