Dexamethasone, remdesivir, plasma, doxycycline: Which works for Covid and which doesn’t

Dexamethasone, remdesivir, plasma, doxycycline: Which works for Covid and which doesn’t

Antivirals that treat viruses are hard to produce and make effective, which is why doctors and scientists repurpose existing drugs

As the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, social media and WhatsApp have been flooded with desperate pleas for drugs such as remdesivir, favipiravir, and even convalescent plasma.

However, most interventions and drugs patients are being prescribed have not proven to help with treatment of Covid-19.

Antivirals that treat viruses are hard to produce and make effective, which is why doctors and scientists repurpose existing drugs first before they try and create a new one to treat a new virus.

Here is a look at all the drugs being used today and their scientific merit, outlining which ones work at what stage and which ones do not.

Dexamethasone

What is it?
Corticosteroid.

How does it work?
Steroids help in tempering immune reaction and calming down the immune system. This is one of the only drugs we know that works to treat Covid patients and ease symptoms. It relieves inflammation and swelling in the body and lungs.

Stage of use: Steroids are administered in a careful setting when a patient requires supplemental oxygen, and doses need to be tightly monitored. Oral dexamethasone is often prescribed for moderate to severe cases with breathing distress and pneumonia. In very critical cases, it is prescribed when the body enters the cytokine storm stage, where the overactive immune drive starts to destroy the body.

Method of administration: Injection or oral.

Benefits: Reduction in mortality among those needing oxygen or ventilation or other forms of respiratory support.

Side effects: Irritability, insomnia, increased appetite, weakness, increased blood sugar levels, headaches, mood swings.

Other uses: Since it modulates the immune response, dexamethasone helps in treating autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. It is also used to treat other inflammatory conditions such as allergies, breathing disorders, skin conditions, among others. It was first produced in 1957 and has been in use since 1958.

Dexamethasone, remdesivir, plasma, doxycycline: Which works for Covid and which doesn’t
WHO tells doctors not to use remdesivir, which Trump took, for COVID-19

Tocilizumab (Itolizumab, Atlizumab Actemra)

What is it?
Humanised monoclonal antibody

How does it work?
Tocilizumab belongs to a class of drugs known as Interleukin-6 (IL-6) blockers. Interleukins are cytokines or proteins that are involved in immune system cell signalling. The drug works by blocking IL-6, a cytokine produced by the body that plays a key role in transitioning inflammation from acute to chronic.

Stage of use: Severe or critical illness requiring rapid increase in oxygen levels

Method of administration: Intravenous (IV) infusion or injection

Benefits: Reduction in mortality in severe patients requiring ventilation, reduces progression from oxygen to ventilation.

Side effects: Runny nose, sore throat, headache, dizziness, stomach cramps.

Other uses: Since it modulates the immune response, tocilizumab helps in treating autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. It was licenced in Japan in 2003, and has been in use since 2005.

Dexamethasone, remdesivir, plasma, doxycycline: Which works for Covid and which doesn’t
Amid Reports of Shortage, Remdesivir Put up For Sale on OLX For Rs 6,000

Anticoagulants (low molecular weight heparin)

What is it?
Medication to prevent blood clotting

How does it work?
By interfering with processes or chemicals needed for clotting.

Stage of use: In some patients, these are associated with better outcomes in the severe stage of the disease, only among patients who show coagulopathy (blood clotting) or elevated D-dimers.

Method of administration: Injection

Benefits: Can prevent the symptom of blood clots in severe patients.

Side effects: Possibly excessive bleeding including heavier menses, long nosebleeds, gum bleeding, and passing blood in urine or faeces.

Other uses: Anticoagulants are routinely used in medicine when thrombosis or internal blood clots occur or have a high risk of occurring, and could potentially block blood vessels, such as in heart medication. For moderate rise in D-dimer levels, baby aspirin, which contains the best dosage for heart patients, is often given.

Budesonide (Pulmicort)

Dexamethasone, remdesivir, plasma, doxycycline: Which works for Covid and which doesn’t
Remdesivir not magic bullet for COVID-19, it has harmful effects: AIIMS Director

What is it?
Inhaled corticosteroid.

How does it work?:
By tempering immune reaction and relieving inflammation in the inner lining of airways, chest, and lungs.

Stage of use: Mild breathing distress with oxygen saturation levels falling below 92-94 per cent. Steroids are to be used strictly only when prescribed by a medical professional.

Method of administration: Inhaler

Benefits: Recent studies have shown it is capable of reducing the likelihood of disease progression to severe. Large scale studies are ongoing.

Side-effects: Headaches, vomiting, body pain.

Other uses: It is commonly used to treat allergic respiratory distress such as those caused by asthma and allergic rhinitis.

Oxygen

What is it?
Oxygen extracted and filtered from air.

How does it work?
Inhaled oxygen passes from the lungs to the bloodstream through diffusion. Oxygen in the blood is then circulated in the body and reaches every single cell, which uses the gas to create energy for normal bodily functions.

Stage of use: When oxygen saturation (SpO2) as measured by a pulse oximeter falls to below 92-94 per cent at sea level and does not come back up and stay stable with deep breathing. Some patients are asked to adopt the prone position (lying on their stomach) for raising their oxygen levels better.

Method of administration: Non-invasive supplemental therapy from a cylinder or concentrator.

Benefits: Helps patients stay alive.

Side-effects: None in the context of Covid-19 but oxygen poisoning from breathing oxygen at higher-than-normal atmospheric pressure, such as when diving underwater or by inhaling through a leak in an oxygen tank or ventilator, can lead to cell damage and death.

Others

Paracetamol every six hours is typically advised to treat symptoms of fever and body pain.

No stories found.
Indians In Gulf
www.indiansingulf.in