DRDO releases a new, anti-Covid drug; it reduces oxygen dependency in patients - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Monday 17 May 2021

DRDO releases a new, anti-Covid drug; it reduces oxygen dependency in patients

To be produced by Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, the drug will reach hospitals in first week, June (Photo: Rajnath Singh and Harsh Vardhan)


By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 17th May 21


Defence Minister Rajnath Singh released on Monday the first batch of a keenly awaited, anti-Covid-19 drug called 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG). It has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in partnership with a Hyderabad based private firm, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories.


The new drug is not a vaccination, or a preventive measure against being infected by the Covid-19 virus. Rather, the 2-DG molecule hastens the recovery of patients who are already suffering from the disease and are, in most cases, facing severe oxygen dependency. The drug is dispensed in powder form in a sachet, and taken orally after being dissolved in water.


Rajnath Singh handed over the first batch of the new 2-DG drug in Delhi to the Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Harsh Vardhan. 


Dr Reddy’s Laboratories chairman, Kallam Satish Reddy, said that his company would “increase the production capacity of the drug which is expected to be made available to all hospitals by the first week of June,” stated a Ministry of Defence (MoD) release on Monday.


One box each of the drug were also handed over to Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Dr Randeep Guleria; and Lt Gen Sunil Kant of Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS). “More will be handed over to different hospitals across the country for emergency use,” the MoD said. 


The so-called “anti-Covid-19 therapeutic application”, which would help Covid-19 patients to reduce oxygen dependency and spend less time in hospital, has been developed by the DRDO laboratory, the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS).


Speaking at the release, the defence minister congratulated DRDO and Dr Reddy’s Laboratory for manufacturing the drug. “2-DG drug is a new ray of hope in these challenging times,” he said.


Speaking on the occasion, Harsh Vardhan termed 2-DG an important development that would reduce the recovery time and oxygen dependency in Covid-19 patients. He hoped that the drug would defeat the virus, not just in India but across the globe.


The Drugs Controller General of India had granted permission on May 1 for emergency use of this drug as “adjunct therapy in moderate to severe COVID-19 patients,” the MoD had announced last Saturday. 



Rajnath Singh said “the development and production of the drug is a shining example of public-private sector partnership in these challenging times.”


The defence minister further said that, when the situation improves, he would personally like to honour the scientists who played a major role in the development of the drug.


Rajnath Singh, who has overseen the military’s vigorous response to the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic said the government had taken effective steps to provide oxygen, medicines and intensive care unit (ICU) beds in hospitals across the country. 


He said country-wide oxygen supply had been substantially increased to more than 9,500 metric tonnes (MT) per day, from around 4,700 MT at the beginning of May.


The defence minister commended the DRDO for setting up medical oxygen plants in hospitals across the country under the PM CARES Fund. He also praised the DRDO for setting up Covid-19 hospitals, equipped with oxygen, ventilators and ICUs, in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Varanasi and Gandhinagar. Similar hospitals are being set up in Haldwani, Rishikesh, Jammu and Srinagar. 


Rajnath Singh also appreciated the passion of retired armed forces doctors who responded to the MoD’s call and re-joined service to providing medical care to the needy. 


He praised the air force and navy for working tirelessly to transport oxygen tankers, containers, concentrators and other critical medical equipment from abroad and within the country. He highlighted the expansion of Covid-19 treatment facilities at military hospitals which are now being availed by civilians as well.


The defence minister praised the operational orientation of the armed forces, which he said remained alert on the borders even while supporting the civil administration in fighting the second Covid-19 wave.

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