Remedesivir, Fabiflu, Dexamethasone, Paracetamol — What Actually Works For COVID Treatment

With advice for COVID patients on what drugs to take and treatment procedure to follow flooding WhatsApp and social media, many are confused.

Here’s the list of drugs that’s now being recommended by health experts, compiled from leading publications.

What has happened is that a lot of drugs were tried during the course of the pandemic, and some of them were found to be ineffective unlike what was believed earlier.

Drugs That Work For COVID-19

  1. Tocilizumab
    It is drugs belonging to Interleukin-6 (IL-6) blockers. It blocks cytokine, an IL-6 and helps in reducing inflammation from acute to chronic.
    When to use: During severe or critical stage when there is a need to rapidly increase oxygen levels.
  2. Dexamethasone
    This is a popular steroid and it helps in reducing inflammation in the body and lungs.
    When to use: When a patient requires supplemental oxygen in moderate to severe cases with breathing distress and pneumonia. Helps reduce mortality.
  3. Budesonide 
    This is the popular corticosteroid inhaler used to treat asthma patients. It helps relieve inflammation in the inner lining of airways, chest, and lungs. Recent studies indicate it prevents likelihood of disease progression to severe.
    When to use: In mild breathing distress cases where oxygen levels are falling below 92-94.
  4. Anticoagulants 
    These are effective only in patients who have elevated D-dimers and are at risk of blood clots.
  5. Oxygen
    This is undoubtedly required when SpO2 saturation levels fall below 92-94 per cent and doesn’t come back up and stay stable with deep breathing. This can be administered from cylinders or concentrator.
  6. Paracetamol
    It is given every six hours to treat symptoms of fever and body pain.

Drugs That Work In Certain Conditions

  1. Remdesivir
    Demand for this antiviral drug has shot in this second wave. It is being reportedly hoarded and sold in the black market. However, experts have warned that Remdesivir is effective only when a patient requires oxygen and is not on a ventilator. It doesn’t work for asymptomatic, mild, or moderate cases along with critical cases on ventilators. The WHO has a conditional recommendation on this drug meaning there isn’t enough evidence regarding its benefits. AIIMS & ICMR have said that it doesn’t work beyond 10 days of onset of symptoms.
  2. Plasma
    Convalescent plasma from recovered patients carries antibodies.
    When to use: Plasma is found to be effective if used within 72 hours of the first symptom onset. It is ineffective as the disease progresses, specially after 7 days.

Also Read: Don’t Misuse Remdesivir, It’s Not A Magic Bullet: AIIMS Director

Drugs That Do Not Work For COVID-19

  1. Favipiravir (FabiFlu, Avigan)
    Another popular antiviral drug has been found to be ineffective at all stages of COVID-19.
  2. Ivermectin
    This antiparasitic drug had shown some promising results in monkeys but has been found to be ineffective in humans, even for mild symptoms. The WHO recommends against using ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment. However, AIIMS and ICMR still allow it for mild cases.
  3. Doxycycline, Azithromycin, Amoxicillin
    These common antibiotics have also been found to be completely ineffective as COVID-19 is a virus not bacteria. However, doctors may prescribe for patients being hospitalised so as to protect from other bacterial infections.
  4. Vitamin C, D, Zinc
    Micronutrients and supplements have been found to be not effective in treating COVID-19.
  5. Hydroxychloroquine or HCQ
    This antimalarial drug was thought to benefit COVID-19 patients early-on. However, it has been found to have no benefits while having side-effects such serious cardiac problems.

Also Read: Create Oxygen Buffer For Third Wave Of COVID-19, Supreme Court Tells Centre

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