India’s top virologist, Dr Gagandeep Kang has called the prescription of monoclonal antibody therapy by the doctors in the private hospitals of the country for the treatment of Omicron variant of COVID-19 patients “unethical, immoral and unscientific” and asked the medical fraternity to “practice better medicine than this”. Notably, monoclonal antibodies treatment for COVID has been excluded in the revised National COVID task force treatment.
In a series of tweets, Dr Kang said that she received a call from a 90-year-old diabetic patient from Chennai who narrated to her that he was advised admission to the hospital for the antibody treatment because he was in contact with someone who tested positive for SARS-CoV2. “A call from a 90-year diabetic uncle in Chennai who said he has advised admission to hospital and antibody treatment because he was in contact with someone who tested positive for SARS-CoV2 sparked this thread,” she Dr Kang tweeted.
“We know that 90 per cent or greater infections are currently Omicron in Indian cities. We know that the licensed monoclonal antibody products in India do not neutralise omicron. Yet doctors in private hospitals are prescribing monoclonal antibody therapy (and admission),” she added in her tweet.
The Doctor further pointed out that there is little data in India which is why we do not know if the percentage of vaccinated elderly with Omicron will progress. “Please remember that even among clinical vulnerable, most contacts will stay asymptomatic or have mild symptoms & recover. Small no. develop severe illness (in India, we have little data so we do not know whether 5% or 20% of vaccinated elderly with omicron will progress),” she tweeted.
“In any case, all the ones who would have gotten better anyway will do fine–but having given antibodies, doctors will ascribe that to their treatment and the hospitals will laugh all the way to the bank. The argument I hear from well-meaning doctors (thankfully not infectious disease specialists) is that it is only one lakh and my patient can afford to buy it, so why not?” Dr Kang said in the tweet.
Dr Kang said that it is unethical, immoral and unscientific to provide the antibodies treatment and asked the doctors to practise better medicine. “Why not? It is unethical, immoral and unscientific. Surely, as doctors, we can teach and practice better medicine than this. And as patients, please ask for what each drug is expected to do and the evidence to back that up,” Dr Kang said.