A low cost therapy which was in vogue prior to the Second World War could bring down the number of persons succumbing to Covid-19, according to a widely respected former scientist of India’s Atomic Energy Commission.
P C Kesavan, former director, Biosciences Group, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay, the elite research hub of Atomic Energy Commission and former head of School of Life Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University has pointed out that fatality rate due to Covid-19 is high compared to previous pandemics like H1N1 and this calls for studying the words of Chinese philosopher Confucius : “Study the past if you would define the future”.
While the H1N1 pandemic registered a fatality rate of a mere .02 per cent, the current Covid-19 caused by the SARS-CoV-2 has registered a death rate of 6 per cent in the United States, says Kesavan in the editorial authored by him for the June 25 issue of Current Science, a publication of Current Science Association in collaboration with Indian Academy of Sciences.
“The death rate is 3.2 per cent in India, 14 per cent in Italy, 11.9 per cent in Spain. The average global death rate for Covid-19 is 6.7 per cent. It is this high death rate that makes Covid-19 pandemic dreadful. Increased incidence of death rate has to do with severity of infection. The spectrum of clinical symptoms of the patients with SARS-CoV-2 is broad and encompasses asymptomatic infection , mild and moderate to severe illnesses of the upper respiratory tract , severe pneumonia, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and respiratory failure leading to death,” Kesavan writes in the editorial.
He reminds the modern medicine physicians of the Low Dose Radiation Therapy administered for severe cases of pneumonia. “Treatment of pneumonia with small doses of X-rays has been known since 1905. During the first half of the 20th century, approximately 700 cases of bacterial sulphanilamide -resistant interstitial and atypical pneumonia were effectively treated by X-rays,” Kesavan writes, quoting facts, figures and peer reviewed research papers.
He points out that LDRT died a natural death following the invention of antibiotics and the “radiation phobia” propagated by the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission set up after the atomic-bomb detonations over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.
According to Kesavan, LDRT can effectively remove the inflammation of the lungs. “In Germany, patients are being treated with LDRT for several non-malignant ailments including arthritis. As of today, dozens of hospitals across the USA and Germany are using LDRT to treat and save the lives of seriously ill Covid-19 patients,” he has written in the editorial. A suggestion to return to the low cost, effective therapy without any side effects comes at a time when one of the private drug manufacturers has announced about the new vaccine for Covid-19 costing Rs 37,800 for a course.