Medicines used for the treatment of swine flu, malaria and HIV appear to have helped in the treatment of at least two coronavirus patients in Rajasthan, doctors and health officials in the state have told NDTV.
Doctors at the Sawai Mansingh Medical College in Jaipur say they have noted the progress in treating an Italian couple who were admitted on February 28 with coronavirus with a combination of the anti-viral drugs and "are now on the road to recovery".
"First they used malaria drug chloroquine and swine flu medicines and then HIV drugs which is part of protocol for restricted health use, it's a published paper. It seems to be working," Rohit Singh, Rajasthan Health Secretary, said.
Coronavirus infections have generally been known to have a high recovery rate and have been linked to deaths in 3.4 per cent cases, according to the World Health Organisation or WHO.
While the Italian woman admitted at the SMS Medical Collegehas already tested negative for coronavirus after over two weeks of treatment, her 69-year-old husband has "responded very well" to the treatment by the team of doctors despite a history of lung diseases, officials said.
Doctors at the hospital say their experience in treating patients affected by swine flu which had spread widely in Rajasthan two years ago was useful.
They have shared their experiences with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) - the top body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research - but say it is too early to conclusively say that this is the scientifically established line of treatment for coronavirus. For that, more trials will be required.
"The Italian patient reported to us on the 28th. He is a senior citizen, 69 years of age, with a history of lung disease, breathlessness, and we were worried about him," Dr Sudhir Bhandari, SMS Medical College principal said.
"We have been handling swine flu - which is a similar pulmonary pneumonia and fatality causing disease - for the last few years. So we knew how viral pneumonia behaves. So we had a meeting to strategies our approach to these patients. We checked up literature and there was a definite clue. We could use the same drug - one was Oseltamivir which we use for swine flu. We even used an anti-malarial drug and two more drugs that can be used against coronavirus," he added.
The COVID-19 outbreak began in a market in China's Wuhan in December last year and has claimed over 5,000 lives and infected 1.3 lakh people since. The World Health Organization has declared it a "pandemic".
India is also grappling with the disease, with over 80 positive coronavirus cases and two deaths. The government has declared the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country a "notified disaster", in a move it called "a special one-time dispensation", to contain the spread of the infectious virus.
The centre has also cancelled tourist visas. Several states, in their fight against the deadly disease, have closed down schools, colleges, shopping malls and movie halls to prevent its spread.