Coronavirus: First ‘cured’ case reported from Thailand, treated with an anti-HIV drug

TNM spoke to experts on whether this treatment can be an option for the three coronavirus patients in India.
Coronavirus: First ‘cured’ case reported from Thailand, treated with an anti-HIV drug
Coronavirus: First ‘cured’ case reported from Thailand, treated with an anti-HIV drug

Health officials from Thailand have reported the first case where a coronavirus patient has been ‘cured’ of the infection. On Wednesday, Thailand’s Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said that the first person to be infected has been discharged by Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute following treatment and a clearance from doctors.

The reportedly cured individual is a 50-year-old man from Thailand, a cab driver who had been in touch with Chinese tourists. He is one of twenty-five confirmed cases of the virus in the country.

How the man was ‘cured’

Scientists realised that the strain of coronavirus virus appeared similar in structure to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Scientists speculated that a combination of drugs given to combat HIV and those which help treat influenza could possibly be effective against coronavirus.

A cocktail of drugs, including the anti-HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir, along with a drug for the flu, ‘oseltamivir,’ were given by doctors in Thailand to around 10 patients confirmed to have tested positive for the virus. The condition of these individuals began to significantly improve. The man who was declared to be cured of the virus was allowed to leave the hospital after his test results for the virus returned negative. Officials speculate and hope that the other patients will also follow soon.

Health experts in China have already been administering a combination of anti-HIV drugs and anti-influenza drugs in an effort to treat those individuals who have been infected with the coronavirus.

Can this be adopted in India?

Speaking to TNM, Dr Sreejith of the Kerala branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) explains that the state may not yet need to resort to these medications, although it was definitely an option.

“Almost 75 per cent of viral infections are self-limiting. So regardless of whether someone has contracted a virus causing the common cold or has been infected with coronavirus itself, they will experience the same symptoms of a cough, cold, or fever. The body’s immune system will respond within a matter of two weeks and the infection is fought off by the body. It is in cases where an individual is not able to fight off the infection and it worsens that they will require extra measures,” he says.

“If the symptoms of the infected individuals do not improve, then it would be a good idea to look at these other options,” he added.

As of Thursday, more than 24,000 cases have been reported worldwide, with a significant number of them being from China.

While officials have yet to determine the source of the outbreak, precautionary measures have been advised. Frequently hand washing and the use of protective gear, such as masks, are thought to significantly aid in reducing chances of contracting the virus.

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