Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said on Thursday that remdesivir was no "magic medicine" and only 30% of coronavirus patients had required it for treatment. Talking to reporters after inspecting a facility where additional beds with oxygen support have been set up to treat COVID-19 patients at the government hospital in Chennai, Radhakrishnan said the state government took a historic decision of allowing retail sale of remdesivir to about 3,000 people a day.
"Though the number of people coming to buy is less than 3,000 a day, there is an unnecessary crowd thronging to buy the medicine," Radhakrishnan said. "For Tamil Nadu, the allocation of remdesivir medicine stands at 59,000 vials a week and even if 3,000 people buy it in a day for six days, we will be selling only 18,000, which we can manage. There is no need to panic," he said.
"Even medical experts, including AIIMS doctors and our own senior doctors, have said that various medicines like tocilizumab, azithromycin and zinc tables are available in large quantities and can be taken as per protocols. Remdesivir is not a magic medicine and not every COVID-19 patient requires it," he said.
Radhakrishnan also warned the government might take action against those private doctors who go against the protocol laid out by senior doctors in Tamil Nadu on prescribing remdesivir. "Please do not spread such false news on remdesivir. Those who really require it will get it. Nearly 30% of the patients have taken the medicine and also got discharged in the past," he said.
Appealing to the public to extend their support to government's initiatives like wearing masks and maintaining physical distance, he said the next 10 days were very crucial in terms of the coronavirus spread and people should stay indoors and avoid taking up unnecessary travel. "We are in a war against this virus and if we follow these initiatives like wearing masks and avoiding unnecessary travel, we will not report high cases that have been reported in other states. We should restrict our movements," he said.
Earlier in the day, Chief Secretary Rajeev Ranjan chaired a review meeting with the district collectors of those districts in Tamil Nadu that had reported high COVID-19 cases, sources said.