Coronavirus outbreak: Three old patients including Italian couple cured with anti-HIV drugs in Jaipur

FE Online

Amidst the spiralling number of positive cases reported due to novel Coronavirus, a small ray of hope has emerged from Rajasthan where three patients including an Italian couple appear to have been cured from the virus after being administered with anti-HIV drugs.

The Italian couple had tested positive in the first week of March and their tests turned negative after being treated with the HIV drug, the IE reported.

The couple have tested negative which means they are no longer suffering from the deadly Coronavirus, Rajasthan Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Rohit Kumar Singh told IE. An 85-year-old man who had tested positive after he returned from Dubai is also understood to have been cured from the HIV drug, officials said. The drug was cautiously used in these three cases as the virus has proved most fatal for old people.

The Italian man aged 69 and his wife aged 70 were treated with the HIV drug after their condition had worsened at Jaipur’s Sawai Man Singh hospital. Due consent of the patients was also taken by the hospital authorities before administering the drug as the last resort.

However, it would be too early to write any judgement on the efficacy of the HIV drug, experts say. A larger trial on 199 subjects is being undertaken in China which will help us reach more clarity on the issue, said R R Gangakhedhar, head of epidemiology and communicable disease at ICMR.

With medical experts ruling out the possibility of producing a Coronavirus vaccine at least for 12 more months, researchers at Indian Council for Medical Research were granted permission for "restricted use" of second line HIV medication which includes Lopinavir and Ritonavir. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had also told IE that this was the first instance of HIV drug being used in the country in the wake of the pandemic.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot also congratulated the hospital staff including doctors, researchers and paramedic staff for the achievement.