India Oxygen

Employees refill cylinders with medical oxygen for the Covid-19 coronavirus patients at Kalinga oxygen refilling centre in Moradabad on May 5, 2021. 

| AFP

India develops Covid drug that reduces oxygen dependence

Indian scientists have come up with a new anti-Covid oral drug that helps hospitalised patients reduce their dependence on supplemental oxygen as well as increase the recovery rate.

The drug 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) was developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (Inmas), a leading laboratory for Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in partnership with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL) in Hyderabad.

The drug comes in powder form in a sachet, and is administered orally by dissolving it in water. It has been approved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for emergency use to treat mild to serious Covid-19 cases.

Like glucose, it spreads through the body to virus-infected cells to prevent virus growth by stopping their synthesis after destroying the protein’s energy production.

The 2-DG, to be launched in a month, works on virus infection spread into lungs, which help to decrease patient’s dependability on oxygen.

According to Dr Sudhir Chandana, the lead researcher and senior scientist at Inmas in New Delhi, the teamstarted making the drug in April 2020, and all patients who participated in the trials recovered from Covid-19.

“We tested it on 200 patients using RT-PCR and found that the drug stops the spread of coronavirus inside the body cells. After the findings, we asked the DCGI for permission to conduct clinical trials.

 In May 2020, we got permission for the clinical trials. By the end of October 2020 we had completed the second phase of trials, and the results were very good. Using standard care (primary medicine used in hospitals for treating Covid patients), the 2 DG will be more beneficial for the Covid-19 patients,” the doctor explained in an interview.

The scientist, who also doubles up as the project director, disclosed that the second round of trials was conducted on 110 patients, while the third round of trials was conducted in six hospitals with ‘dose ranging’ being done across 11 hospitals in the country.

“The results were very promising as patients treated with 2-DG showed faster symptomatic cure than normal and took about two and a half days less to recover than people who were not,” the DRDO said in an official statement.

The scientists assure that the drug will help deal with the lack of oxygen and critical care beds, a major problem due to the current surge in infections.  

As per India’s Ministry of Health data, the country recorded 403,738 new coronavirus cases and more than 4,000 deaths in a day for the second day in a row on Sunday.

Last month, Kenya’s health ministry pushed back the date people who have received their first dose of the Astra Zeneca Covid-19 vaccine are expected to get the second shot.

This came after India imposed an export ban on the AstraZeneca vaccine due to the sharp surge in Covid-19 infections.

A member of the vaccine advisory task force told the Nation that the government had opted to administer the second shot 12 weeks after the first dose and not eight as previously planned, as it sought the second dose. 

“Kenyans should expect to see a new text from the Chanjo platform with adjusted dates on when they should go for the second dose. According to the manufacturers of the vaccine, the second dose can be taken anywhere between eight and 12 weeks,” the official explained. 

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