THE Zimbabwean government is upbeat about its preparedness levels against the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID 19) saying antiretroviral medicines used elsewhere for the recovery of patients are in full stock.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
In an interview with HealthTimes on Tuesday, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said Zimbabwe has fully stocked with the antiretroviral drug reportedly being used in the recovery of patients confirmed to have coronavirus.
“We have Kaletra and we are hearing reports that it is helping a lot. They then use it in combinations with alpha intraferons to boost. We already have these antiretrovirals in country which are being used for treatment of our HIV patients,” he said.
He said Zimbabwe is fortunate to have these drugs in country amid this global respiratory epidemic crisis.
“We are already using it in some of our patients living with HIV. We are lucky in that respect because this is something which has been found to work in China. They have managed to save some patients,” said Dr Moyo.
During a post cabinet briefing on Wednesday, the Minister said there has been some trials in China and other countries where they tried ARVs.
“You know the ordinary HIV antiretrovirals. There is one particular combination which worked. So that is what is being used and lucky enough we have tons and tons of that. So don’t worry, it will be there at various institutions who are ready if they identify someone who is tested positive they can be able to apply that,” said Dr Moyo.
On Monday, the Minister toured the national reference laboratory as well as Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital to assess the level of preparedness.
Wilkins being the Isolation Facility for the Northern Region displayed a simulation of how they would get a patient off the ambulance until they are left with a trained nurse. The nurse would don a space suit, gumboots, gloves, an N-95 mask and goggles first before handling the suspected case. The ambulance staff would be in the same attire.
As the Nurse finishes with the patient, they have to remove the above mentioned items carefully to avoid infection while getting disinfected by a person who stands about half a metre away
For the laboratory readiness, the NRL recently received 300 test kits and reagents to identify the coronavirus. Government awaits rapid test kits which can produce results with 15 minutes.
According to a Korean News agency, a South Korean patient infected with the novel coronavirus recovered after receiving anti-HIV medication, the patient’s doctors claimed on Wednesday.
The country’s third virus-infected patient was released from a hospital, after fully recovering from the virus, in addition to four previous discharges cases, out of a total of 28 confirmed cases here.
“It looks like the anti-retroviral medication Kaletra that is used for AIDS treatment seemed to have some effect on the novel coronavirus,” Lee Wang-jun, chairman of Myongji Hospital’s board of directors, told reporters. “The viral level dramatically decreased the day after the administration of Kaletra and his pneumonia symptoms improved.”
Kaletra is the HIV medication sold by global pharmaceutical firm AbbVie Inc. There have been reports across the globe of several patients being fully recovered with drug mixtures that include Kaletra despite some controversies over usefulness in treating the virus.
Yim Jae-kyun, another doctor of the patient, also said the findings show that Kaletra should be administered to COVID-19 patients with underlying diseases or those at risk of pneumonia at an early stage of treatment.
The third patient, a 54-year-old South Korean national, arrived here from the Chinese southern city of Wuhan on Jan. 20. He started showing symptoms on Jan. 22 before being diagnosed with the virus on Jan. 26.
On Feb. 5, doctors in charge of the country’s second discharged virus-infected patient also said that the patient was administered Kaletra.
Doctors at the time said they were not sure whether the medication had played a crucial role in the treatment but several symptoms, such as cough, improved.