As Coronavirus Spreads, Thai Doctors Discover a Promising Treatment
Thai doctors have found a promising treatment for the new coronavirus.
The doctors, from the Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok, said Sunday that a drug cocktail of HIV and flu medication had worked on several patients, including a woman with severe symptoms from Wuhan, China — the epicenter of the outbreak.
"This is not the cure, but the patient's condition has vastly improved. From testing positive for 10 days under our care, after applying this combination of medicine the test result became negative within 48 hours," Rajavithi lung specialist Dr. Kriangska Atipornwanich told reporters, according to Reuters.
The successful treatment combined the HIV medications lopinavir and ritonavir with large doses of the flu drug oseltamivir.
Atipornwanich said he had heard that physicians in China were using HIV medications on coronavirus patients.
"We checked related information and found anti-flu drugs were effective on MERS so we combined both groups of medications," he said, according to the Bangkok Post.
The woman given the successful treatment was 70-years-old according to Reuters and 71-years-old according to the Bangkok Post. She had first been admitted to Hua Hin Hospital and then transferred to Rajavithi Hospital on Jan. 29. Her symptoms were severe, and she had tested positive for the virus for 10 days. But 48 hours after treatment, that changed.
"The treatment, as well as the recovery, is fast," Atipornwanich said, according to the Bangkok Times.
Another patient given the drug cocktail improved, whereas one experienced an allergic reaction, according to Reuters.
Somsak Akkslim, director-general of the Medical Services Department, said that the new treatment would only be used for severe cases at first.
"The outlook is good but we still have to do more study to determine that this can be a standard treatment," Atipornwanich said.
The news from Thailand comes as health experts say the virus is likely to become a pandemic, an epidemic that spreads on two or more continents, The New York Times reported. However, it is unclear how dire a pandemic would be, because scientists are not sure exactly how deadly the disease is. As of Sunday, there were more than 17,000 cases in at least 23 countries and more than 360 deaths. However, epidemiologists estimate there may be 100,000 or more cases.
"It's very, very transmissible, and it almost certainly is going to be a pandemic," Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Dr. Anthony S. Fauci told The New York Times. "But will it be catastrophic? I don't know."
It is spreading much faster than SARS or MERS, but slower than the flu or measles. However, while SARS killed 10 percent of those infected and MERS kills about a third, the new coronavirus currently has a fatality rate of two percent, and that is likely to drop as milder cases emerge.
However, the 1918 flu epidemic killed 20 to 50 million people despite having a mortality rate of 2.5 percent. This was due to its fast spread and the state of medical care at the time.
In Thailand, 19 cases have been reported, according to Reuters. Of that number, eight patients have made a full recovery while 11 are still being treated.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
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The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>