Remdesivir trial results stumps desi medicos
With lakhs of Indians having been administered the drug till now, the development also casts shadow on informed consent
Doctors from across the city have raised serious concerns regarding the World Health Organisation's (WHO) recent findings of the Solidarity Trial, which shows the wonder drug Remdesivir as non-effective in the treatment of COVID-19. Health experts are now worried about its side-effects as lakhs of patients have already been administered the drug as a line of treatment for the infectious disease. mid-day had in its article dated July 1 raised serious concerns about such wonder drugs.
Speaking to mid-day, Dr Wiqar Shaikh, senior allergy and asthma specialist said, "In the recent statement, WHO concluded that Remdesivir, HCQ, Lopinavir/Ritonavir and Interferon have no effect on patients with COVID-19. The Solidarity Trial was conducted for 28 days and involved 11,266 adult COVID-19 patients in 405 hospitals across 30 countries. The result of the trial reveals that none of these drugs reduced hospital stay and mortality rate among patients. Moreover, Remdesivir had failed in the trial conducted for Ebola virus, for which it was primarily discovered."
Dr Shaikh added, "This trial also raises questions regarding the other drugs used on an experimental basis for treatment of COVID-19 like Favipiravir, plasma therapy and Tocilizumab. In such cases where the drugs are either experimental or unapproved, it is important to take informed consent from either the patient or from the nearest relative, which is in fact absolutely required in medico legal terms. Unfortunately, it's something that hospitals across the country do not follow." Moreover, he advised that all those who had been administered Remdesivir should be closely monitored for any side effects, even if they have been discharged from hospital.
Dr Subhash Hira, professor of Global Health at the University of Washington-Seattle, USA and health advisor to several UN, Indian and African health agencies, said, "The purpose of this trial seems to be to provide some data that will drive global policy decisions. As the report states, no clinical data was collected from patients, although hospitals were collecting generic patient information. My scientific opinion is that this study report will be useful for a macro policy framework and we should wait for results of full clinical trials of these medicines that may show underlying benefits and long-term effects. Till then, this macro information should not be used to guide clinical practice, nor should the patients be alarmed if they are receiving any of these medicines."
Dr Ketan Vagholkar, professor of surgery at DY Patil medical college said, "The WHO has been making deceptive statements since the beginning of the pandemic. It has nullified all the important drugs, which are being actively used to treat COVID-19 patients. It is obvious that such statements are made solely based on geo-political motives."
Dr Ketan R Vagholkar, professor of surgery at D Y Patil Medical College
Dr Vagholkar added, "Every COVID Care Centre has developed its own protocol with the drugs available, based on their experiences and results, and it has helped to bring down the mortality rate in the country significantly. Therefore, there is no reason for patients to be worried about such statements. This again highlights the possibility of manipulation on the pretext of evidence-based medicine, to favour a few global pharma giants." He further said that cured COVID-19 patients, who have taken these drugs, should report to the respective OPDs if at all they develop any symptoms.
Speaking about herd immunity, Dr Shaikh said, "It is shocking that the DG of WHO calls herd immunity 'unethical'. How can an established 100-year-old concept, which has been discussed in every immunology text book, be called unethical? This is tantamount to rubbishing immunology text books and journals, which are read and followed by medical students and doctors all over the world."
Citing the statement by WHO scientist Soumya Swaminathan that the vaccine might not be available before 2022, Dr Shaikh said that in its absence, the only solution was herd immunity.
Dr Vagholkar said, "Though global epidemiologists have opposed the concept of herd immunity, inevitably the world is progressing towards it, as every household is getting infected. Majority of those testing positive for COVID-19 continue to be asymptomatic."
Panic and anxiety
Dr Vishal Sawant, consulting psychiatrist, said, "The WHO should also be aware of the psychiatric implications before making such statements. This might have a negative impact on the minds of common people, who are already fighting the pandemic. And such statements of drugs not being effective for treatment of COVID-19 will only cause panic-based reaction and anxiety amongst patients and their loved ones, which is uncalled for in a pandemic. The negative comments could be either reserved for health authorities or coupled with positive breakthroughs."
Dr Shivangi Pawar, consulting psychologist, said, "Such statements will create unwanted panic among people who have been administered Remdesivir. This only raises further doubts and concerns regarding the line of treatment of COVID-19."
Advocate Godfrey Pimenta, a resident of Marol Village, Andheri East, who was admitted to Seven Hills hospital and was administered Remdesivir injections, said, "I have personally experienced the efficacy of Remdesivir as after receiving six injections my oxygen level in blood was stabilised and it continues to be the same even after discharge. Such a statement from WHO six months into the pandemic raises questions about the use of drugs on an experimental basis. It endangers the life of the common man and also exposes the nexus between WHO and global pharmaceutical companies."
Mangal Kamble, whose husband Mahesh was given Remdesivir
Kharghar resident Mangal Kamble, whose husband Mahesh, 56, was COVID positive and had been administered Remdesivir injections at Fortis hospital, Vashi, said, "Doctors say that Remdesivir is a wonder drug for COVID-19 but no explanation is given on how it works and at what stage it should be given. Patients who have been administered the drug should be monitored properly to avoid post-COVID fatalities."
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