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Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), during a media briefing on April 23, said that coronavirus is as such not a very ‘serious’ disease but the stigma related to COVID-19 is resulting in increase in morbidity and mortality in India.
Dr Guleria said, “The patients, who have been cured, are our symbols of victory and hope. But the stigma related to COVID-19 is increasing the morbidity and mortality in the country. Patients come forward very late only when they are gasping for breath. We must remember that disease is ‘not that serious.’ 90-95% of people recover but if there’s stigma and people don’t come forward for testing, then we may land up in a situation where delayed treatment may result in higher mortality.”
Dr Guleria added, “Many patients can be cured by providing them with oxygen. Lack of oxygen can trigger many cardiac and neurological problems hence our primary treatment and strategy of providing more oxygen beds is based upon it. 80% COVID-19 patients experience mild illness, 15% require supportive care and oxygen therapy, and the remaining 5% need ventilators or critical care.”
Speaking on further possible treatments, Dr Guleria said, “We have also started using convalescent plasma therapy, and I’m heartened to see that many people who have recovered are coming forward to donate their blood. Drugs like Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin and various repurpose drugs available in our country are being looked upon as treatment options. The virus can be cured only if we stop stigmatising it and start sympathising with COVID-19 affected patients.”