Speaking during Health4All Online Episode-14, Dr Shashank Joshi (Padma Shri Awardee), Chair, International Diabetes Federation Southeast Asia, Endocrinologist, Joshi Clinic, Lilavati Hospital, Member, Covid 19 Maharashtra State Task Force, said, “The new-age antiviral treatment drugs like Molnupiravir are broad-spectrum antivirals which act as chain-terminators. We are seeing a 30 per cent hospitalisation risk reduction with the use of Molnupiravir. If someone above the age of 50 has a consistent fever for two days alongside two or three comorbidities, then the doctor might prescribe them these antivirals. While patients Omicron patients below 60 years with no comorbidities can start symptomatic treatment with paracetamol.”
Elaborating on the confusion about the use of the drug, Dr Joshi said, “There is no need to worry in such cases because these pills are not prescribed to children below the age of 18 years, or to patients who require hospitalisation or to pregnant women. The pill must be administered within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms for patients in the high-risk population group, namely, hypertensives, diabetics, people on immunosuppressed medication, senior citizens, people with other ailments and likewise.”
Dr Joshi also presented the comparison of the response of new-age antiviral drugs given in 72 hours after the emergence of symptoms in high-risk groups:
Emphasizing the judicious use of the new-age treatment drugs for Covid, Dr Joshi said, “Whenever we have a new disease which is constantly evolving, new treatment methods are also bound to come up. However, it is up to the doctors to identify the most vulnerable people and prescribe medication accordingly. For example, for an asymptomatic 85-year-old patient, who has mild hypertension treated with just one pill, there is no need for any kind of test or intervention. Instead, only observation and monitoring of the temperature and oxygen saturation is needed, and the person may recover well. However, on the other hand, if the same person is symptomatic with a consistently high fever of more than 100 degrees and has a bit of kidney issue, severe hypertension and diabetes, the administration of oral pills for home treatment may be required or in some cases, hospitalisation.”
“The idea is to use the treatment selectively and in the most needful cases only. Unfortunately, masses immediately get hooked onto any new treatment that comes up, considering it as a magic pill and this results in its indiscriminate use. This is why it is important to believe your doctors and let them decide if the pill is meant for your particular medical condition or not,” added Dr Joshi.
Talking of ways to reduce mortality from the pandemic during Health4All Online Episode-14, Dr Harshal Salve, Additional Professor, Community Medicine, Co-ordinator – Collaborative on Air Pollution and Health Effects Research in India (CAPHER-India), General Secretary- Faculty Association of AIIMS (FAIMS), said, “To reduce mortality from Covid, two important things need to be taken care of. Firstly, the healthcare system needs to also focus on the management of chronic illnesses alongside Covid. The availability of medicines, medical help and other healthcare services for non-covid diseases have taken a backseat due to the pandemic. This needs to change to minimise the impact of comorbidities on the current pandemic. Secondly, all individuals in the vulnerable population must ensure that they are fully vaccinated.”
Speaking on the trends of the pandemic and the gradual wave setting in during Health4All Online Episode-14, Dr Nandni Sharma, Director Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College & Hospital, said, “We are expecting the Omicron wave will decline just as steeply as it rose upwards. As more and more people get vaccinated, the severity and duration of illness are also likely to be less than the variants seen earlier. Due to the ability of the virus to mutate and produce new variants, we cannot exactly predict when the Covid pandemic is going to end; however, we have seen that humanity has been able to come out of a pandemic earlier and this will also fade away in due course of time.”