Dr Nirmal K Ganguly, former DG, ICMR, speaking to ANI in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo/ANI
Dr Nirmal K Ganguly, former DG, ICMR, speaking to ANI in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo/ANI

Antiviral drug -- Remdesivir -- is next big thing in fight against COVID-19: Former ICMR DG Dr Ganguly

ANI | Updated: May 02, 2020 21:09 IST

By Joymala Bagchi
New Delhi [India], May 2 (ANI): Since the onset of global coronavirus pandemic, scientists, experts and medical practitioners are vigorously engaged in researching for the most effective treatment of COVID-19 patients. As per the experts, antiviral drug -- Remdesivir -- could be the answer.
Significantly, Remdesivir is a nucleotide, which stops the RNA viral replication leading to no mutation. It has, most importantly, lesser toxicity.
US-based pharma major Gilead Sciences, which developed the drug, is currently exploring several possibilities and is in conversation with several Indian companies for open licensing of this drug.
"With little help from the government, this drug will be available very quickly. Synthesis of this drug is not very difficult. If Gilead allows, India can make it available and do its own trials as well. It is a big thing altogether," said Dr Nirmal K Ganguly, former Director-General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), while speaking to ANI, here on Saturday.
"The antiviral was created to treat RNA viruses -- Marburg and Ebola. It, however, did not succeed then," he added.
Commenting on the drawbacks of this drug, Ganguly said: "The only drawback noted so far is that it has to be given through infusion. It can neither be given as a tablet nor outside the hospital."
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in a published report has observed that the antiviral has a clear cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time of recovery on 1,063 patients.
Gilead will soon conduct a larger trial in seven countries.
"After the results are known, India will be able to use this drug as this is the largest randomised chemical trial," added Dr Ganguly.
"Hydroxychloroquine has an advantage of early viral load reduction if given to a normal person. However, in milder cases, close supervision is required. FDA has taken it out from the list of compulsory drugs owing to the deaths. Brazil and Sweden have banned it. However, it does not mean we cannot carry out trials with this drug," said Dr Ganguly.
Interestingly, Ramdesivir effectively treats both humans and animals suffering from COVID-19. (ANI)