Srinagar: Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Thursday said Tocilizumab drug prevents Covid-19 patients from dying.
“The drug saves lives,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
Quoting a study from United Kingdom, he said Tocilizumab reduces the risk of death when given to hospitalized patients with severe Covid-19 disease.
“The study also showed that the drug shortens the hospital stay and reduces the need for a mechanical ventilator,” he added.
Dr Hassan said we have been able to save lives of many Covid-19 patients in Kashmir hospitals with early institution of the drug.
“But, now the drug has run out of stock in valley hospitals putting lives of patients at risk,” he said.
Urging government to make the life-saving drug available for Covid-19 patients, Dr Hassan said we must ensure that every patient who needs the drug should be able to access it.
“Originally developed to treat rheumatoid arthritis, the drug combats the disease by quelling cytokine storm which is the hyperimmune response of the infected person to the virus,” he said.
“Mortality in Covid-19 patients has been linked to the presence of the cytokine storm induced by the virus,” Dr Nisar said adding that “excessive production of cytokines leads to respiratory failure and widespread tissue damage resulting in multiorgan failure and death.”
“Tocilizumab suppresses the hyperimmune response by blocking receptor for a key cytokine known as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and improves survival rates and reduces mortality among Covid patients,” he said.
The DAK President said it is vitally important to know that there is no single magic bullet to treat the novel coronavirus and several drugs in combination are needed to tackle the virus.
“With the approval of several therapies, combination of them given at the right time gives a good result,” he said.
“Apart from oxygen, moderate to severe patients are given steroids, remdesivir, convalescent plasma and Tocilizumab in various combinations,” he added.
“Initially it was believed that deaths were happening because of poor oxygenation. Now we know that intravascular clotting can also lead to lung dysfunction and death. So heparin is given in Covid patients to prevent clotting,” said Dr Nisar.