The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has once again jumped in to rescue India from the clutches of an unforgiving second wave of Covid-19 which continues to claim thousands of precious lives every day. The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has now granted emergency use approval to a drug developed by DRDO which was being tested in the country for close to a year. A DRDO lab and Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy’s Laboratories developed the anti-Covid therapeutic application of the drug 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) which has been found to fasten recovery among infected individuals and drastically reduce their need for supplemental oxygen.
The announcement of the approval by the DCGI was made by India’s health ministry, as it said, “In the ongoing second COVID-19 wave, a large number of patients are facing severe oxygen dependency and need hospitalisation. The drug is expected to save precious lives due to the mechanism of operation of the drug in infected cells. This also reduces the hospital stay of COVID-19 patients.” The ministry added that the drug had been developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a leading laboratory of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL) in Hyderabad.
Since the drug is composed of a generic molecule and an analogue of glucose, the health ministry said that it can be easily produced and made available in abundance throughout the country. The drug comes in powder form in a sachet and is taken orally by dissolving it in water. On an average, the drug has been found to prepone normalisation of vital parameters of a person infected by Covid-19 by two and a half days. Therefore, the usage of this drug will greatly relieve India’s overburdened healthcare system and help save precious lives.
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The Health Ministry also said that the drug “accumulates in the virus-infected cells and prevents virus growth by stopping viral synthesis and energy production. Its selective accumulation in virally infected cells makes this drug unique.” This is not the first time that DRDO has stepped up and proven to be a miracle worker in assisting India’s fight against the pandemic. TFI reported recently how the DRDO’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics has created an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to help detect Covid-19 from chest X-rays. Prior to that, the organisation deployed innovative technologies to deal with India’s oxygen crisis and in many cities like Lucknow, Guwahati, and Mumbai helped with the setting up of hospitals.
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The latest drug developed by DRDO will significantly aid India’s fight against Covid-19, especially at a time when cases are surging and the vaccination drive has dampened due to a variety of reasons. DRDO must be commended for its sense of national service and duty.