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Only 10-15% Covid-19 patients need oxygen and crucial drugs, say top doctors

Published on:26 April 2021, 16:11pm IST
Experts reveal that around 85-90% Covid-19 positive patients get mild or no symptoms. In comparison, a very small number of people need hospitalisation.
Rhythma Kaul
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Let oxygen cylinders and crucial drugs be available for those who are critical. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Only about 10-15% case of Covid-19 require oxygen therapy and medicines such as antiviral remdesivir, in a hospital, leading health experts said on Sunday in an attempt to address people’s concerns amid the raging second wave of the pandemic in the country.

“As high as 85-90% Covid-19 positives get mild or no symptoms. Therefore, there no need to hoard injections like remdesivir, or oxygen cylinders as it leads to unnecessary panic buying, and shortages. Most people get mild symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and need symptomatic treatment along with steam and yoga,” said Dr Randeep Guleria, director, All India institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.

covid-19 updates
Only people with severe symptoms need hospitalization. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

According to experts, Covid-19 symptoms usually last for about a week or 10 days. Only about 10-15% of the positive cases run the risk of developing severe infection, with the need for oxygen or other medicines such as steroids and remdesivir.

“Just about 5% cases turn critical and require stronger medicines and even ventilator. Just because you get a positive report doesn’t mean you have to get admitted or start yourself on oxygen therapy; as indiscriminate use without actual requirement will lead to unnecessary shortages of essential supplies,” said Dr Guleria.

He reiterated that drugs such as remdesivir are a part of investigational therapy, and the World Health Organization’s solidarity trial showed no benefits in terms of death and reduced hospital stay. In a US study; however, it was shown that if given to moderate to severe patients, there is a chance hospital stay can reduce to a certain extent. “Therefore, stable patients who are in home isolation, with oxygen saturation of 94% and above, don’t require remdesivir. If mild cases take remdesivir, then there is a chance of more harm than good. It is no magic bullet, and should be given only to hospitalised patients with moderate to severe disease and lung X-ray or CT scan showing a shadow, or the blood reports showing that the patient was progressing towards moderate to severe disease,” he added.

Till the oxygen saturation is 94%, the situation is not worrisome, experts said.

“If you feel breathing difficulty or chest constriction, then do deep breathing exercises, and lie in prone position that will also help improve overall oxygen saturation,” Dr Guleria said.

covid-19 updates
Don’t hoard vaccines. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Experts emphasised the need for strictly observing Covid-19-appropriate behaviour in the wake of more transmissible variants in circulation in the country.

“Why are we laying emphasis on being extra cautious, and asking to strictly observe Covid-19-appropriate behaviour such as wearing a mask, hand hygiene and physical distancing, because the variants in circulation, their spreading capacity is nearly double,” said Dr Naresh Trehan, chairman, Medanta Hospital.

Apart from observing Covid-19-appropriate behaviour, getting vaccinated is another measure that will cut the transmission cycle in the long run.

“Everyone should get vaccinated as recommended by our top experts in the country. Also, one need not panic at all. The reason for surge is largely not following Covid-19-appropriate behaviour, and we must correct that,” said Dr Sunil Kumar, director general of health services, Union ministry of health and family welfare.

Rhythma Kaul Rhythma Kaul

Rhythma Kaul works as an assistant editor at Hindustan Times. She covers health and related topics, including ministry of health and family welfare, government of India.