The Hyderabad-based Asian Institute of Gastroenterology (AIG) founder, Dr D Nageshwar Reddy is a world-renowned doctor for many pioneering work in medicine. AIG formed a 52-member strong doctor’s team drawn from various faculties for in-depth study of the second Covid surge. It will look at steroids and antibiotics being prescribed for Covid patients, use of oxygen and concentrators, the reason for black fungus and so on. They came up with a Covid treatment protocol which was carried out on 20,000 seriously affected patients and almost all of them were saved. Reddy, who has been accorded the Padma Bhushan and the American Society of Gastroenterology Crystal Award, says India could overcome the pandemic by the year-end if the AIG treatment protocols are followed religiously along with a vigourous vaccination drive, in an interview to M S Shanker of Outlook. Excertps.
Dr B Nageshwar Reddy
What prompted your institute to develop the Covid treatment protocols?
We decided to develop this protocol due to a lot of confusion over the treatment process. There is literature available of some protocols like the Mayo Clinic protocol, the NIH (National Institute of Health) protocol of the United States or our own AIIMS protocol. But the problem with all these protocols is that are not designed for Indian patients. Most of these protocols depend upon what is called Randomized Control Trials – RCT. And some of them also are biased. The reason why I say this is because treatment process in the West may not suit Indian patients or conditions. There they use steroids and antibiotics which may not be advisable for Indian patients. Hence, we decided to make our own protocols based on the combination of evidence and experience. We have treated over 20,000 cases of covid in recent time with our new protocols. And results started yielding as our treatment process helped reduce the mortality rate to almost zero, which is no mean achievement.
Are the new infection like black or white fungus secondary to the steroid usage or does the virus itself cause this?
Ans: Yes, to greater extent, that’s what our studies reveal. New infections like the black fungus or white were result of over dosage of steroids. And another factor for this kind of infection was noticed in diabetic patients. But this is not necessary in all cases as it also depends on unhygienic environs which also contribute to these infections. Oxygen being given in peripheral or smaller hospitals may be another reason. The fourth factor is apparently due to exchange of masks between people. This was not noticed in the first wave as the mutant is upgrading receptors in epithelium. Any one or all of the above can be the cause for the infection formation.
How many doctors were involved in developing these protocols?
About 52 doctors from various department, including internal medicine.
Will you be doing for a patent of this protocol?
Ans: No, we are not going for a patent. As it is a question of humanity, it should be free of cost. We are planning to publish this freely in booklet form and distribute among one lakh doctors across the country. Since it is a critical need of the hour, we decided to spread this knowledge at a faster pace so that patients can benefit at large.
How prepared is the Indian healthcare system for the third wave?
Considering our huge population, we can never say we are well prepared. There is no point in blaming anyone and it’s not time too. Our objective is how to overcome the crisis, that should be our single point agenda. In my view, we could handle the situation to a great extent and if news reports are any indication, the infection is dropping considerably. I am sure by June-end we can come to grips in keeping the numbers under control. All scientific brains should sit together and work out a strategy how to prevent another wave.
When do you feel India can become free from the pandemic?
It depends on two things: Covid appropriate behavior and vaccination. We have estimated that we require around 20 crore vaccines a month but as of now the production capacity is just 7-8 crore. But we are roping in other vaccines like Sputnik or Biological Evans which should help produce 15-20 crores by the end of next month. My prediction for mask-free India will be sometime during November-December, only if we follow covid protocols and get vaccinated.
In your view is the virus natural or man-made?
This is a very difficult question to answer as it is not under my expertise. But, some very eminent scientists like Nicholos Bail is expressing doubts over whether or not this may have been produced in a Wuhan lab. It may may not be intentional but accidental, yet these labs should be made accountable. Hence, we require investigation and transparency in this matter. Otherwise, it will be a difficult task for future research.