The elderly Italian couple currently undergoing treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19) at a hospital in Jaipur have been administered a combination of two drugs, commonly used controlling HIV infection. This is the first time that this combination has been used to treat the deadly virus amid mounting cases in India.
The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) had approved the 'restricted' use of the combination of medications-lopinavir and ritonavir, which are second-line HIV drugs, before they were administered to the elderly couple. The DCGI had given the approval after the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had sought an emergency approval for using the drugs for treating COVID- 19.
Dr S Meena, the Medical Superintendent of SMS Hospital, said that the decision to administer the combination of lopinavir and ritonavir was taken after the Italian man and his wife had developed severe respiratory problems.
The Italian man, who himself is a doctor, is on oxygen support. Even before he acquired the infection, he had some respiratory issues. His condition had deteriorated and he developed severe respiratory problems after getting the coronavirus infection and thus was given these drugs. His condition is stable now. His wife is also doing better and she is taking care of her husband," Dr. Meena said.
The combination of lopinavir and ritonavir along with other drugs have been used in clinical trials in China, where coronavirus first emerged, and Thailand for treating Covid-19 patients.
The couple was among the 16 Italian tourists who and their Indian guide tested positive for coronavirus. Except for the couple, 14 Italian tourists are currently admitted at Medanta hospital while the Indian guide is being treated at Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi.
According to health ministry officials, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country stood at 44. However, the ICMR has also counted three persons from Karnataka and two from Pune as positive, which once taken into account takes the total 49.