The Ministry of Health has added new drugs to its protocol for treating Covid-19. They include inteferons, drugs that are used in treating many diseases that involve the immune system, for patients with moderate and severe symptoms, to be taken inside hospitals and under direct medical supervision.
They also include hydroxychloroquine.
“We have decided to use hydroxychloroquine which has been shown to be effective in treating Covid-19 patients,” Gehan Al-Assal, a member of the Health Ministry’s Scientific and Medical Committee, told Al-Ahram Weekly. She confirmed, however, that hydroxychloroquine will not be used to treat patients suffering from specific diseases of the heart and liver.
According to Al-Assal, the committee removed the Tamiflu from the medical protocol. It has been replaced with more effective antivirals, hydroxychloroquine, immunity boosting drugs, vitamin C, zinc and antibiotics.
Plasma from patients who have had Covid-19 is now being administered to critical patients, 30 of whom have recovered after receiving the treatment, leading to Al-Assal to call on people who have had Covid-19 to donate blood.
The therapeutic protocol divides cases into those exhibiting mild, moderate and critical symptoms.
In mild cases, 400 mg of hydroxychloroquine is administered every 12 hours on the first day, followed by 200 mg every 12 hours for the next six days. They also receive zinc, vitamin C, anticoagulants and anti-fever medication.
Moderate cases - patients suffering from fever, respiratory symptoms, or pneumonia - receive 400 mg of hydroxychloroquine every 12 hours for one day followed by 200 mg every 12 hours for the next ten days; 75 mg of oseltamivir twice a day for 10 days; 500 mg of Azithromycin a day for five days; zinc; vitamin C and anticoagulants. Corticosteroids will be available to some patients, as needed, but will be administered in hospital under direct medical supervision.
The use of antibiotics, says Al-Assal, will be determined by the presence of clinical signs of infection in moderate to severe cases.
Anticoagulant drugs will be prescribed to those at risk of developing blood clots, and are a cornerstone of the coronavirus medical protocol. ICU patients with pneumonia will be provided with Tocilizumab.
Meanwhile, Health Ministry Spokesman Khaled Megahed said kits containing medication for the treatment of Covid-19 were being distributed to health units and hospitals to be given to patients who will be quarantining at home.
“The kits contain everything needed to treat Covid-19 for a week. At the end of the first week, the patient should return to the hospital or health unit for a check-up. If the patient still needs further medication, he will be provided with another kit,” said Megahed.
Megahed said the guidelines for patients isolating at home include the patient staying alone in separate room that is properly ventilated for 14 days, using their own utensils and, if possible, their own bathroom. If this is not possible the bathroom should be sterilised each time the patients use it.
In the case of children isolating within the home, a healthy parent – ie, one who does not have an underlying health condition - should attend to the child’s needs while taking all precautionary measures: wearing masks, frequently washing hands and keeping a distance of no less than two metres between them and the child.
If a domestically isolating patient develops pathological symptoms, s/he should go immediately to a hospital.
Pathological symptoms include a fever for three consecutive days, shortness of breath, chest pain that impairs breathing, dehydration, cramps (especially in children), impaired consciousness and severe cough.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 4 June, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly