Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) says it is offering an “experimental repurposed drug” for treatment of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus within the country.
Responding to the panic over the deadly China virus outbreak, Raman Gangakhedkar, head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases (ECD) division, ICMR, told Outlook that “Even as other people are searching for cures, ICMR has certainly started thinking in terms of providing one of the medicines, which is still an experimental repurposed drug, on compassionate grounds.”
Declining to identify the drug, given the tendency of people in India to indulge in self-medication, Gangakhedkar says as it is an experimental drug and should not be used by a person who suspects he has coronavirus.
“So we are not publicizing this. We have suggested its use only in cases where there is documented evidence of the person having the virus. Only then will you be offered this treatment. Also, only if you feel comfortable, should you take this drug,” says Padma Shri awardee Gangakhedkar.
Despite the high transmission efficiency, Gangakhedkar feels there is no need to panic if people observe healthy and hygienic practices everyday such as washing hands, not spitting, and using clean tissues or handkerchief while sneezing or coughing, etc.
Gangakhedkar also says that coronavirus has a very low mortality rate, though it has very high transmission efficiency.
The deadly coronavirus has killed more than 425 people and infected a further 20,000 in China, nearly all of them in central Hubei province -- the epicentre of the outbreak -- and spread to two-dozen countries since it emerged in December.
India has reported three cases of coronavirus. All three patients from Kerala recently returned from China’s Wuhan city.
Currently, 647 Indians and seven Maldivians who have been evacuated from Wuhan and Hubei province are in 14-day quarantine at a medical camp in Manesar, near Delhi.
The World Health Organization said that the outbreak of avirus does not yet constitute a "pandemic".