Amid the rising demand for the life-saving Remdesivir injections and Covid beds, the civic body has now urged doctors treating patients to ensure that patients do not panic on receiving their Covid reports if their oxygen levels and cycle threshold (CT) values are normal.
Moreover, authorities have learnt that many a time, doctors are prescribing Remdesivir injections despite patients’ oxygen levels being above normal. Officials said most patients panic only when their treating doctors say they need oxygen or ventilator beds because at this point, the patient begins to run from pillar to post in search of beds.
Recently, The Free Press Journal came across the case study of a 57-year-old patient who had tested corona-positive but his CT value was 17 and oxygen saturation levels were above 95 per cent and was asymptomatic but the doctor treating him told him to get admitted saying his condition was not good and he needed Remdesivir injections. So, the patient frantically began looking for a hospital where he could be admitted and where Remdesivir was available. There are many such patients like the abovementioned, who panic and feel they will die unless they are hospitalised and get Remdesivir.
Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said there have been several such instances since the onset of the pandemic, when despite patients’ health parameters being normal, because the doctors they routinely consult may have prescribed Remdesivir or have said they needed hospitalisation with oxygen beds, the patients want it. This kicks off a desperate search by the patients and their family members for oxygen or ventilators beds across Mumbai hospitals.
“Currently, everyone has a different level of understanding of corona treatment, which is leading to increased work pressure on Covid hospitals or jumbo centres. Daily, they must field more than 100 calls daily for beds from patients with normal health parameters. We urge doctors to make their patients understand when they need hospitalisation or Remdesivir injections or oxygen beds if they test positive,” he said.
In guidelines issued last year, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had said the intravenous drug could not be used as standard care and remains beneficial only if used in the first 10 days of infection.
According to Dr Shashank Joshi, member, Maharashtra Covid Taskforce, the drug is not “life-saving”. However, it is useful when given in the first nine days when the virus is replicating and it reduces hospital stays by one to three days. Importantly, he says, people should stop panic-buying the drug. “The rush for the drug is unfounded. It has restrictions on use and should be given only during the first nine days. It's a drug that only reduces viral replication in the body. It does not have the potential to reduce mortality. No study of the drug, worldwide, has shown an ability to reduce mortality,” he said.
Doctors treating Covid patients at civic hospitals said they have also come across many cases where patients do not need Remdesivir injections but insist on it just because their family doctors have prescribed it. If the doctors try to explain this to the patient and their relatives, the response is that the doctors do not want to save lives. “There is no question that Remdesivir helps increase the oxygen level in critical patients if administered in time. But if a patient does not need it and we are forced to give it to them, it’s a waste. We are facing a huge shortage of Remdesivir injections because of all these factors and patients who urgently need the medication are not getting it. The civic body and the state government need to create awareness on the line of treatment for Covid, to avoid such situations,” said a doctor at a civic hospital.