Criticising what he termed as "undue focus" on the antiviral drug Remdesivir in the treatment of COVID-19, Dr Sangram Patil, a COVID doctor in the UK, said that the drug is being given too much hype on social media and by politicians.
"Initial studies done on Remdesivir showed that it had some effect on faster recovery of patients but no benefits on preventing deaths or preventing people going on ventilators," the doctor said in an interview with HW News. He added that the largest WHO solidarity trial of the drug had also shown no clinical benefits to using Remdesivir on COVID patients.
Dr Patil also pointed out that most Remdesivir purchases only served to line the pockets of doctors rather than provide any substantial benefit. In addition to this, patients were not triaged properly in hospitals leading to overcrowding and improper use of resources, he said. He referenced a case in Gujarat where a politician was providing Remdesivir free from party offices, citing it as an example of the drug being politicised and taking away attention from more pressing matters.
"90% of patients can be managed at home...mild, moderate patients can remain at home, and they can be helped just through phone," Dr Patil suggested, drawing on his own experience with the UK health system.
"Lockdown is only a pause," the doctor said regarding the soaring rates of COVID cases in the country. "Scientifically speaking, there isn't even a pause. It is a slowing down of transmission because the virus is already there in the families, and it will continue spreading in the families... Lockdown is only a time for [the health system] to get ready."
From now on, the bulk of efforts should be given to mass vaccination of the population as vaccines were effective in curbing the spread and severity of the infections. Terming the management of the second wave by the Indian government as a "failure" on an administrative level, Dr Patil also said that more data would have to come from Indian institutions regarding vaccine efficacy to reassure the public and identify any changes from the mutated viruses.
"Because we are young, we didn't see deaths," he stated. "We knew the second wave was coming...but we did not prepare for it. We haven't prepared ourselves for enough oxygen, enough ventilated beds... Instead, we added fuel to the fire through elections and Kumbh Mela, which were completely unnecessary," he said.