For patients of COVID-19 the medicines and the time they are administered play a key role, said Director Dr Randeep Guleria, the Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Dr Guleria added that anti-viral drug Remdesivir, in short supply currently due to huge demand, is not a ‘magic bullet’.

“In the last one year of COVID management, we have learnt that two things are most important – drugs and timing of drugs. If you give them too early/late, it would cause harm. Giving a cocktail of drugs on day one can kill your patient and would be more harmful,” Dr. Randeep Guleria told ANI.

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The comments come amid a galloping second wave of COVID-19 in the country that has led to immense pressure on the healthcare infrastructure. Several states have reported shortages of oxygen, ventilators and Remdesivir, an anti-viral drug. The country recorded around 2.7 lakh cases in the past 24 hours with more than 1000 deaths.

On Remdesivir

On Remdesivir, Dr Guleria said it was important to understand that it is not a magic bullet and is not a drug that decreases mortality. “We may use it as we don’t have an anti-viral drug. It’s of no use if given early to asymptomatic individuals or ones with mild symptoms. Also of no use, if given late,” he added, according to the agency.

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On plasma therapy

The AIIMS director added that plasma therapy had limited role and wasn’t of much use. Less than 2% COVID patients require Tocilizumab that’s being used a lot these days. Majority of patients with mild symptoms/asymptomatic will improve with just symptomatic treatment, he added, the agency reported.

In plasma therapy, the yellowish liquid part of the blood is extracted from a person who has recovered from COVID and is injected into a patient. The antibodies in the plasma can help a patient fight the pathogen.

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Steroids use

Dr Guleria added that recovery trials showed steroids will benefit but it’s also important to know when they’re given. “If given early before saturation (O2) falls, it has harmful effects. COVID patients who got steroids early had higher mortality than those who didn’t,” he said. It is of no use if steroids are given on day 1. They are useful only in moderate to severe illness when oxygen saturation is falling, he added.