2-DG new 'ray of hope': Rajnath after rolling out first batch of DRDO's anti-COVID drug

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New Delhi, May 17 (PTI) Anti-COVID oral drug 2-DG has brought a 'new ray of hope' in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday after rolling out its first batch.

The therapeutic application of the 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) has been developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a leading laboratory of the DRDO, in collaboration with Dr Reddy's Laboratories (DRL), Hyderabad.

Asserting that the development and production of the drug is a 'shining example' of public-private partnership, Singh said,'2-DG drug is a new ray of hope in these challenging times..This is a great example of the scientific prowess of our country.' He expressed confidence that the medicine, which comes in a powder form in a sachet and can be taken with water, will play a crucial role in winning the fight against COVID-19.

The defence minister also listed efforts of the armed forces in helping civilian authorities in dealing with the pandemic across the country, but asserted that their deployment has not impacted the military's operational preparedness at the borders.

'Even after going through all these difficulties, we have ensured that our preparedness at the border does not have any impact. There is no shortage of enthusiasm of our forces anywhere. We know this very well, no matter how big the difficulty is, we will overcome it,' he said.

The defence minister officially released the drug by handing over one box of it to Health Minister Harsh Vardhan at an event, held at the DRDO headquarters here.

Boxes containing the drug were also handed over to the Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Randeep Guleria and Lt Gen Sunil Kant of Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS).

The Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) had approved the drug for emergency use as an adjunct therapy in moderate to severe coronavirus patients earlier this month.

The development and production of the 2-DG drug is a 'shining example' of public-private partnership, Singh said, and added that he would personally like to honour the scientists behind the project when the situation improves.

'I was told that by using it (2-DG), people have recovered two-and-half days earlier than usual treatment period. Oxygen dependency has also been reduced by about 40 per cent in the patients. Its powder form is also a major feature as people will be able to use it very easily like ORS solution,' Singh said Urging all stakeholders to walk shoulder-to-shoulder in the fight against the pandemic, Singh exuded confidence that the country will emerge victorious against this 'invisible enemy'.

'We will not be at ease. We will not be tired. We will keep fighting and win against COVID-19,' he emphasised.

In his address, Vardhan termed 2-DG as an important development by DRDO and DRL, Hyderabad that will reduce the recovery time and oxygen dependency in COVID-19 patients.

He hoped that the drug will go a long way in defeating the virus in not just India but across the globe, according to a statement by the defence ministry.

The defence minister said that the government is continuously monitoring the situation and taken effective steps to meet the requirement of oxygen supply, medicines and ICU (intensive care unit) beds in hospitals across the country.

He pointed out that the oxygen supply in the country has been substantially increased to more than 9,500 metric tonnes per day from around 4,700 metric tonnes in early May.

'I am happy to say that the Medical Corps has also decided to take back its retired doctors so that our health system can be strengthened further. I heartily commend such physicians who are joining this campaign even after their service,' Singh said.

In his brief address, Singh underlined the important role being played by the armed forces in assisting the civil administrations to tide over the current situation.

He said the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy are working tirelessly to transport oxygen tankers, containers, concentrators and other critical medical equipment from within the country and abroad.

Singh also highlighted the expansion of treatment facilities at military hospitals which are now being provided to civilians as well.

The defence minister reiterated the government's resolve to provide medical care to each and every citizen of the country, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed officials to conduct door-to-door testing, equip ASHA and Anganwadi workers with all necessary tools and provide all facilities in remote areas.

Chairman DRDO G Satheesh Reddy expressed confidence that the anti-COVID drug will help the patients recover from the deadly virus, hoping that DRL, Hyderabad will take it forward and soon make the drug available for the patients.

The defence ministry on May 8 had said that the clinical trials of the drug 2-DG showed that it helps in faster recovery of hospitalised patients and reduces supplemental oxygen dependence. PTI MPB PYK PYK