Scientists at Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Hyderabad are fighting against time to develop a drug to treat Covid-19 even as the country stays under a lockdown till April 14.
IICT director Dr Srivari Chandrasekhar tells M S Shanker in an interview that all efforts are on to 're-purpose' existing drugs to find the right cocktail. Excerpts...
Is IICT ready with any molecule formulations which can help cure the coronavirus infected patients?
There are no approved drugs for Covid-19 treatment and also no vaccine as of yet. Balaxovir was discovered for influenza and in re-purposing this has shown promise. Favipiravir was discovered for antiviral or RNA viruses. Remdesivir was developed by Gilead for Ebola. Now Remdesivir is re-purposed to do clinical trials for coronavirus and trials are currently going on.
We are working on three drugs based on clinical data available and under Cipla’s initiative. This disease is rather new, only a few months old. So, the drug discovery was not done for this problem before. Any normal process of drug discovery takes 8-10 years. Hence, all efforts are on to try existing drugs (re-purposing) for this problem.
How quickly can the drugs be developed and made available in the market?
The drugs can be launched in India as soon as FDA approvals are given in the US as clinical trials are done there. If the Chinese agency approves, then India can take a decision on when to make it available.
Many scientists across the globe claim that the coronavirus can survive on some surfaces or in the air for several days...
Yes, the survival of the virus on various surfaces is being reported widely. It is always good to keep ourselves away from exposed surfaces.
What about the claims of alternative medical practitioners like homoeopathy and Ayurveda of having the capability to treat Covid-19?
I am not an expert on Ayurveda or homoeopathy.