By Archana Sharma
Jaipur, Oct 29 (IANS) Jaipur-situated SMS Hospital, which added many firsts to its credit in making COVID-19 patients recover right from March this year, recently went against a WHO advisory to recommend the use of Remdesivir for Covid patients with moderate to severe illness (those on oxygen), when the former termed the drug ineffective in COVID treatment.
The WHO looks sponsored with a biased approach, SMS Medical Hospital principal and controller Dr Sudhir Bhandari told IANS. It is definitely under some kind of influence, he added.
Earlier, SMS Hospital endorsed the use of Hydroxycloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients when WHO said that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Speaking to IANS, Bhandari said, “SMS is a premier institute which has many firsts to its credit when it comes to COVID-19 treatment. We were the first to discover a combination of drugs using hydroxychloroquine, the best antibiotic drug with erythromycin and anti-HIV drugs namely lopinavir/ritonavir to cure COVID-19 patients. In March, when there wasn’t any specific treatment available for COVID-19, the institute successfully turned three Italian patients negative with our innovative approach,” he said.
“We were the first institute to create a new approach to anti-viral activity and created a bridge between a point when there was no specific treatment available for COVID-19 to the point when specific treatment is identified following scientific knowledge on scientific basis,” he added.
“As we improved, we became a solidarity trial of WHO who started with four drugs namely hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir, remidesivir and interferon. The solidarity trial, in general, is always under a question mark.
“Eventually, the doses of hydroxychloroquin as recommended by WHO in these trials were very high. We wrote many presentations to WHO explaining to them that such high doses should not be recommended. Later, after the trials, the WHO did not recommend the drug saying it has the possibility of developing cardio toxicity. We wrote to them saying that COVID itself is a cardiotoxic disease and it can lead to a clot in the heart and hence a high dose quantity cannot be recommended. But WHO did not recommend its use and also withdrew usage of lopinavir/ritonavir later.
“So, blaming a hydroxychloroquine unnecessarily cannot be termed as a prudent thing by WHO. We have a great experience of curing our patients using these drugs.”
Bhandari openly refuted the WHO’s findings on this drug and reiterated his stance and confidence in it.
“SMS in fact declared Remdesivir as an effective antiviral ribonucleotide inhibitor of viral RNA polymerase drug even before FDA approval.”
During April and May, we had a mortality rate of 3 to 3.5 pc when patient numbers were less. Now when the cases are almost 500 times, the mortality rate is between 1.2 to 1.4 percent, he said, adding “This drug has definitely helped cure our patients successfully as our recovery rate is quite high and mortality rate is quite low.”
With the approval of the FDA for use against the pandemic, the controversy has been cleared for the medical fraternity. The confidence among the doctors has now been restored. Remdesivir is on its way to become the benchmark for exploring the effectiveness of potential other drugs in the near future, Bhandari added, saying there are many research articles which recommend its use.
Bhandari said that SMS hospital was the first in the state to start plasma therapy in Rajasthan. “We created a 3000-bed facility in March with 300 bed ICU units. We were working proactively right from the start and were the first to recommend using CT Scan of patients in March as the RTPCR testing lacked accuracy. We did pulmonary angiography of 50 patients a day and discovered there were clots in the lungs of patients suffering from COVID-19. It is not pneumonia but micro clot formation which caused mortality was another fact we discovered,” he added.
Bhandari, who has been a member of the state advisory board of the government for COVID-19, Head of the core treatment group of the government for COVID-19 as well as Head of the COVID-19 containment programme of SMS medical college and attached hospitals, says “SMS has become the pioneer institute in the COVID control programme having many firsts to its credit.”