HYDERABAD: Leading Covid-19 task force members and health experts treating coronavirus patients across the country said on Monday that the Covid antiviral drug molnupiravir is reducing hospitalisation by 30-50 %, as well as the severity of the disease.
Days after ICMR chief Dr Balram Bhargava said that molnupiravir has major health safety concerns, some of India’s top health experts said the benefits of the drug outweigh potential risks. Studies so far have shown no convincing side-effects among humans, they said.
Late last year, India’s drug regulator, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation ( CDSCO ), had approved molnupiravir for restricted use in emergency situations.
However, questions were raised by the Indian Council of Medical Research about its potential to cause teratogenicity, mutagenicity, cartilage damage, and possible dangers to pregnant and lactating mothers.
“Here is drug which I am sure both CDSCO and DCGI have analysed before approving for use,” said Dr Govindarajan Padmanaban, a key member of the national Covid task force. “Any anti-viral at this stage is useful, and molnupiravir should be used taking all precautions as Covid cases are dangerously multiplying,” he said.
Dr Dhruva Chaudhry , nodal officer for Covid for Haryana , said so far only animal studies have shown some side-effects. “The question is can a medicine cause cancer in humans after using it for only five days? There should not be any hesitation in using the drug among patients above 45-50 years with co-morbidities... “It’s a trade-off and it’s more in favour of benefits.” Dr Vasant Nagvekar, a task force member, said the drug should be used at a clinician’s discretion.