KOCHI: A four-drug mix for COVID-19 patients, who are at the initial stage of developing pneumonia, is proving quite effective in saving lives in a Kerala hospital and could even become an international model for treating the pandemic, doctors have said.
COVID-19 patients require intensive observation and prompt tests, but this pioneering treatment, based on a four-drug mix, is earning global recognition following success stories at the Government Medical College (GMC), according to doctors at GMC, Ernakulam.
Citing an example, top physicians at the hospital recalled the case of British national Brian Lockwood who was admitted to the hospital last month.
The 57-year-old tourist was brought to the hospital at Kalamassery on March 15 just ahead of boarding a flight to Dubai.
A 17-day isolation at the hospital helped Lockwood recover from COVID-19.
In a statement issued by National Health Mission (Arogya Keralam), Dr A Fathahudeen and Dr Jacob K Jacob of GMC pointed out that Lockwood had no signs of serious ailment when he was admitted to the hospital, having been brought from the international airport at Nedumbassery.
"He (Lockwood) had only low fever and mild cough. He came walking in, recalled Dr Fathahudeen about the Britisher, who had arrived in Kerala on March 10 and visited the scenic Munnar hills. The patient underwent an X-ray test. Seeing the report, we sensed all wasnt well. We referred him for a CT scan. That step proved decisive in Lockwood's recovery. In the process, he became the first COVID-19 patient in India to undergo a CT scan," the doctor said.
Dr Jacob, who is with GMCs Internal Medicine Department, referred to another milestone in Lockwood's path to recovery at the hospitals ICU.
That was on March 17 when he was given a unique mix of four medicines following breathing trouble for which the patient was first provided respiratory support Within hours, Lockwood was administered a mix of four drugs: two varieties of HIV anti-virus, and hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.
This treatment is less likely to have the desired result on a patient with advanced stage of coronavirus.
In the Britisher's case, fever came down by the eighth day.
That was the first sign of the patient recovering, said Dr Fathahudeen.
He cited the instance of the 69-year-old Malayalee who died in GMC of COVID-19 on March 28.
The Kochi resident was already diabetic and had a heart problem.
The man recently returned from the Gulf where he contracted coronavirus, and had let his new disease aggravate by remaining homebound for a few days before getting admitted to the hospital, observed Dr Fathahudeen.
The driver of the cab that had earlier picked the man from the Kochi airport, too, went on to contract the virus.
He was young, and so we could ensure his recovery.
The patient can be discharged only if both two tests held 24 hours apart show coronavirus-negative, he said.
Dr Thomas Mathew, principal of the 1999-founded GMC, is the coordinator for the treatment of coronavirus patients at the hospital.