Kochi: A British national, administered with a combination of
anti-HIV drugs by doctors at the Ernakulam Medical College in the south Indian
state of Kerala, has tested negative for deadly Covid-19.
The development has raised hopes for an effective medication
to treat the infection that has snuffed out 21300 lives globally so far. This
is for the first time in the state that the combination of Ritonavir and
Lopinavir was used to treat the novel coronavirus infection.
The 76-year old UK tourist, along with his wife, was admitted
to the hospital on March 15. “The patient was given the drug for seven days.
The sample test done on third day of administering the drugs itself turned
negative. Another test on March 23 too returned negative. Six others in the
group, who had turned positive for the disease, is still under treatment while
five others were discharged,” a hospital statement said.
The drug combination was already used to treat an Italian
couple, tested positive for the disease, at a hospital in Jaipur after the
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had given its nod. The duo too had
recovered, though, one of them later died of cardiac arrest. Following their
recovery, the ICMR had approved the use of this drug combination in patients
The ICMR had also advised use of an anti-Malarial drug
Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for health workers and asymptomatic household contacts
of lab-confirmed cases. The same was approved by the Drug Controller General of
India for restricted use in emergency situations and banned the export of the
pills besides restricting its sale to rule out shortage.
Meanwhile, the development of a vaccine against the deadly
disease could be months away. Though nearly 35 companies and academic
institutions have started efforts in this line and the human trial of a
potential vaccine started, the testing will take much more time.
“A vaccine that you make and start testing in a year is not a vaccine that’s deployable. [It will take] a year to a year and a half, no matter how fast you go,” said Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US.