Explainer: All About DRDO’s New COVID Drug

Explainer: All About DRDO’s New COVID Drug

India’s new COVID-19 drug has got an emergency approval for as an adjunct therapy in moderate to severe COVID patients by Drugs Controller General of India
Explainer: All About DRDO’s New COVID DrugHow effective is DRDO’s new #COVID19 drug?

New Delhi: Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) new COVID-19 drug – 2-DG has been recently granted permission for as an adjuvant therapy (treatment given in addition to the primary treatment) in moderate to severe COVID patients by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI).

Here’s a quick lowdown on this new drug and how it helps in the COVID-19 treatment and what is the opinion of the experts:

DRDO’s Anti-COVID Drug – 2-DG 

This drug has been jointly developed by DRDO in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories

Basically 2-DG stands for 2-deoxy-D glucose, which is essentially a modified glucose, the type that so far has been used in therapeutic treatments as anti-cancer and anti-viral agent. Now, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has said that it should be only used as an additional treatment in moderate to severe COVID patients and not the mild ones.

This drug has been jointly developed by Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a lab of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL), Hyderabad.

The company claims that the drug can be produced easily in huge quantities as well.

The drug essentially comes in a powder form in a sachet and is to be taken twice a day by dissolving it in water, for at least a week.

But how does the DRODO drug help the COVID-19 patients?

The claims so far is that it leads to faster recovery in COVID patients who are hospitalised. It also claims that it reduces the dependence ON oxygen supplement in patientS and works against all the variants of the virus.

Also Read: Dos And Don’ts Of Using Steroids In COVID-19 Treatment

What Is The Technology Behind DRDO’s 2-DG COVID Drug?

For the virus to multiply fast in the body it needs glucose for energy. When the virus feeds on this modified glucose for energy, the claim is that it will get arrested. Which means it will stop from multiplying at that same rate.

What is The Evidence On The Effectiveness Of DRDO’s 2-DG COVID Drug?

The initial clinical data found that the molecule works effectively against SARS-COV2, then DRDO and DRL conducted phase 2 clinical trials on 110 patients. Phase 3 trials were carried out on 220 patients admitted. And at the end of the trials, they concluded that the patients became free from the supplemental oxygen by Day 3.

Also Read: COVID-19 Makes It Harder For People To Access Basic Health Services

Experts View On DRDO’s 2-DG COVID Drug

Talking about the drug and why it was given an emergency approval in the country, Dr Sudhir Chandna, Additional Director Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, DRDO said,

The data that has been submitted to the drug controller has undergone thorough scrutiny and the peer review publication of the data is in process and will be done very shortly. The one reason why we went for an emergency approval is that we saw that our drug had some indication that really seemed to help COVID patients and their oxygen dependency. Data from all our clinical trials have suggested that the use of drug in COVID patients reduces the oxygen dependency and can save lives.

Highlighting why the number of patients in the clinical trials were this low, Dr Sudhir Chandna said,

Well, the number 220 was not given by us, when clinical trials happen, they happened with full protocol. Initially we were given just a few of the patients to show the proof of confirmation for the dose and if it is safe and effective. And once that was done, the drug controller gave us the permission to carry on with the phase 2 of the trials with dose ranging, in which we increase the dosage of the drugs. So, when the trial was concluded and when the data was presented to the drug controller, it was so distinctive and the proof of its effectiveness was solid that in the phase three trial we were given relatively less people as a part of the trials under the power analysis guidelines. So, in phase three we got the approval for 220 patients and that’s how the trials were carried out. However, if our results were not as distinctive and as good, then in Phase 3, the number of patients would have increased.

On the other hand, Dr Sumit Ray, Head, Critical Care, Holy Family said that this is not how it should have been done and added,

Though I have a lot of faith in DRDO and India’s pharmaceuticals, but having said that, I believe, this is not how science works. You have to and have to do peer review of the findings, you have to tell, what are the targets and what is the drug or medicine is targeting to reduce – mortality, oxygen use or ventilator use. What are the outcomes we are looking at – this all should be in public domain and research domain. And that has not been done in this case. It was also done in the other vaccines for COVID-19 and that  is why there was vaccine hesitancy earlier. I believe, the drug can also have complications and side-effects, but no-one is talking about that.

Further giving an example of the plasma therapy, which was continued in the country for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, Dr Ray added,

The way the research has changed for the treatment of COVID now is a point to worry. In the initial phase of the pandemic, the research was done differently and was very different from now what we are seeing. I think, now we are rushing into things and the same was the case with plasma therapy. Most of the doctors initially had said that plasma therapy will not work, but we did it, without even having strong evidence for it. The same should not happen with this drug.

Also Read: Coronavirus Explained: All You Need To Know About The COVID-19 Vaccine For Children In India

Reiterating the same point of lack of evidence in the public domain, Dr Yatin Mehta, Chairman, Medanta Critical Care said,

I think, we are getting too excited about the drug. It’s too early to do that. We should first follow the full protocol for releasing a drug, which include scientific paper and peer review studies, which has not be done in this case. I sincerely hope the drugs works, but I also think, trying it out on just 220 is a very small number.

On the contrary, Dr Dinesh Singh, Senior Director, Max Super Hospital, Vaishali who HAS had some experience in handling this drug in past for his patients says,

As far as my experience in handling this drug in patients with brain tumour and cancer, I have seen that if you give low dosage of this modified glucose to patients it is treated safe. Even in this trial, we are just giving 45 milligrams per kilogram body weight of the dosage.

Whereas, Dr Ray says that the evidence of this glucose working even in cancer patients is very less. He said,

Basically, this is a dummy glucose, which helps in slowing the process of cells or virus from multiplying. It sounds very good, but it has not worked in past, nor we have much data on the same to prove its efficacy. What we need to know for this new drug is data, which is currently not there at all, at least in the public domain. Why can’t the data for our vaccines be more transparent like FDA, the way they had put the data for Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, is something we should look at. Every single information for both these vaccines were put live on the public domain.

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World

17,66,30,634Cases
5,80,25,717Active
11,47,82,895Recovered
38,22,022Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 193 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 17,66,30,634 and 38,22,022 have died; 5,80,25,717 are active cases and 11,47,82,895 have recovered as on June 16, 2021 at 3:30 am.

India

2,96,33,105 62,224Cases
8,65,43247,946Active
2,83,88,100 1,07,628Recovered
3,79,573 2,542Deaths
In India, there are 2,96,33,105 confirmed cases including 3,79,573 deaths. The number of active cases is 8,65,432 and 2,83,88,100 have recovered as on June 16, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

59,24,773 7,652

1,41,440 8,982

56,69,179 15,176

1,14,154 1,458

Karnataka

27,77,010 5,041

1,62,303 9,859

25,81,559 14,785

33,148 115

Kerala

27,48,204 12,246

1,12,792 1,456

26,23,904 13,536

11,508 166

Tamil Nadu

23,78,298 11,805

1,25,215 11,669

22,23,015 23,207

30,068 267

Andhra Pradesh

18,20,134 5,741

75,134 4,879

17,32,948 10,567

12,052 53

Uttar Pradesh

17,03,207 270

7,221 890

16,74,072 1,104

21,914 56

West Bengal

14,68,044 3,268

20,046 1,125

14,30,949 2,068

17,049 75

Delhi

14,31,498 228

3,078 148

14,03,569 364

24,851 12

Chhattisgarh

9,88,172 609

11,717 943

9,63,113 1,544

13,342 8

Rajasthan

9,50,133 172

5,619 848

9,35,658 1,006

8,856 14

Odisha

8,59,526 3,405

44,358 3,436

8,11,780 6,799

3,388 42

Gujarat

8,21,078 352

8,884 658

8,02,187 1,006

10,007 4

Madhya Pradesh

7,88,649 224

3,610 331

7,76,424 528

8,615 27

Haryana

7,66,357 228

3,703 374

7,53,584 564

9,070 38

Bihar

7,17,949 410

4,360 412

7,04,075 813

9,514 9

Telangana

6,06,436 1,556

19,933 528

5,82,993 2,070

3,510 14

Punjab

5,89,153 628

10,802 1,111

5,62,701 1,691

15,650 48

Assam

4,66,590 3,415

41,184 475

4,21,378 2,906

4,028 34

Jharkhand

3,43,793 184

2,646 416

3,36,058 596

5,089 4

Uttarakhand

3,37,449 274

3,642 266

3,26,822 515

6,985 25

Jammu And Kashmir

3,08,726 715

12,407 1,125

2,92,114 1,830

4,205 10

Himachal Pradesh

1,99,197 321

4,050 382

1,91,737 691

3,410 12

Goa

1,63,048 327

4,175 231

1,55,926 548

2,947 10

Puducherry

1,13,192 355

4,668 279

1,06,828 629

1,696 5

Chandigarh

61,200 40

486 21

59,917 58

797 3

Manipur

61,096 785

8,744 301

51,354 476

998 8

Tripura

60,385 536

4,886 65

54,870 596

629 5

Meghalaya

42,759 450

4,430 99

37,579 542

750 7

Arunachal Pradesh

31,938 290

2,849 40

28,934 326

155 4

Nagaland

23,854 101

2,972 229

20,423 327

459 3

Ladakh

19,649 38

552 20

18,898 57

199 1

Sikkim

18,659 209

3,239 67

15,136 273

284 3

Mizoram

15,899 268

3,637 45

12,191 312

71 1

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,473 9

61 2

10,408 7

4

Lakshadweep

9,297 61

484 36

8,768 96

45 1

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,280 11

105 4

7,049 15

126

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