Leading a team of seven doctors and 25 nurses, Dr R. Sajith Kumar, a professor and head of the infectious diseases department at Kottayam Government Medical College, Kerala, says they've managed to save an elderly couple more with nursing and supportive care and not just with anti-viral drugs.
Thomas, 93, and Mariyamma, 88, were taken to the Government Medical College in Kerala’s Kottayam after they tested positive for COVID-19. They reportedly caught the virus from their son who had returned from Italy.
Talking to Sputnik, Dr Kumar revealed it was a very difficult case especially because the man suffered a heart attack during the treatment. Divulging the details of the treatment given to the elderly couple, he stated that they did not include medical drugs being propagated across the world, not even hydrochloroquine.
He said: “More than a specific anti-viral drug, it was the success of good nursing and supportive care. We thought about using those drugs but the 93-year-old had serious problems like cardiac problems such as rhythm abnormalities in the heart, so most of the drugs were not safe in this stage".
"He was treated with standard drugs that we use for patients with heart attack. He developed respiratory problems for 48 hours when he was very critical but with good ventilator support he came back to normal condition", Dr Kumar added.
According to Dr Kumar, the key was to observe the patient every hour for every new development. “Whenever he developed any complication, we would treat it in short term basis".
Even 88-year-old Mariyamma had respiratory and urinary problems but there were no major issues, only small problems that could be tackled immediately.
India's federal Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has revealed that while the percentage of people in high-risk category is less, about 85% people dying due to the virus are those with comorbidities. About 80% of people affected by the virus in India are aged under 60, as per the ministry.
On the higher number of young people getting infected, Dr Kumar said: “If somebody who is young is infected by the coronavirus, we need not be bothered much unless they develop some respiratory problems and some problems in their lungs".
He says only 20% or even less will develop problems with their lungs and in the remaining 80%, the disease will just disappear. However, these 20% are predominantly made up of elderly patients as they have different problems such as diabetes, lung disease, or kidney disease.
He suggested that hospitals focus on the elderly patients as a minor problem such as breathlessness can become lethal. If they need to be put on support, they must be given ventilators instantly.
Yet to Find Success With Drug
From China to the US, people have postulated about different chemicals that are used for many other diseases, for example hydrochloroquine for inflammatory disorders, and malaria. People are suggesting drugs used for treating HIV. Now, some are even suggesting anti-parasitic drugs.
On all the suggested drugs, the doctor says “there is not even a single good study which states any of these drugs as essential. All the drugs are right now in an experimental stage”.
He says a Randomised Control Trial (RCT) study is essential for any drug to be used on a massive scale but it has not been done for any of the drugs.
“Most of the reports being published about studies where the virus is being drawn in a laboratory and then adding chemical to it and it is not replicating that fast but this information will not translate into clinical utility", he says, adding that “we are yet to hit somewhere”.
Kerala was the first state to report a positive COVID-19 case in India but data shows the southern Indian state now having a high rate of recovery at 84 percent.
There are 4,421 positive cases in the country, 327 are from Kerala, of which 58 have been discharged, as per the Health Ministry.