In a first for the country, a combination of two drugs widely used for controlling HIV infection was administered on an elderly Italian couple undergoing treatment at a Jaipur hospital for COVID-19.
The Drug Controller General of India has approved “restricted use” of the combination of medications lopinavir and ritonavir which are second-line HIV drugs, for treating those affected by novel coronavirus after the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) sought an emergency approval for the same.
Amid rising coronavirus cases in India, SMS Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr DS Meena said the Italian man and his wife had developed severe respiratory problems following which a decision was taken to put them on the combination of lopinavir and ritonavir.
According to officials, the consent of the patients was taken before the drugs were administered.
“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 were 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.