Qatar will be one of the first countries to get any medicine that proves effective in treating the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19), HE the Spokesperson of the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management Lolwah bint Rashid bin Mohamed AlKhater has said.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, she assured everyone that Qatar will spare no effort in providing any treatment that proves its medical and health efficacy, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.
She said there are currently a lot of reports on companies around the world coming up with some drug or vaccine, noting that these reports are always taken into account whenever they come from official sources.
On increasing the number of beds and whether it is an indication of the outbreak of the disease, HE AlKhater explained that raising the capacity was not related to any outbreak but is about taking all precautionary measures and planning for the future. She added that Qatar is planning for the virus in accordance with the patterns of its spread that have been observed in other areas, but that does not indicate an expectation that the country will necessarily go down the same path.
She said the number of tests done were quite large as compared to the confirmed cases, which is a good indicator. She, however, maintained that there is a need to take all necessary precautions, the most important of which is social distancing and other preventative measures.
HE AlKhater stressed that healthcare in Qatar is accessible to everyone for free. As an example, she said there is a rare medicine provided by the State for muscular dystrophy, whose single dose costs more than $2mn but is available for free in the country.
Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, Co-Chair of the National Committee for Epidemiological Preparedness at the Ministry of Public Health and head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation, said the world is focusing on developing a cure for the coronavirus. He pointed out that there are about 90 studies currently on a group of drugs, about 20 studies on different vaccinations in many countries and experiments on new medicines that have not been produced commercially yet.
He added that there are also studies on drugs that are used in the treatment of some other diseases and experiments on the vaccine against the virus, stressing that all this is in the stage of experimentation.
Dr al-Khal explained that the results of some of these experiments have begun to be announced, but most of these experiments and their results have not been published yet, and there is no scientific evidence so far that there are effective drugs. There is some anecdotal news that there are effective drugs but no scientific evidence. Also, some results have started to appear using old medicines, he added.
Further, he pointed out that some limited and small experiments that are difficult to build upon a strong scientific conclusion indicate the possibility that they are useful.
Dr al-Khal added that until the results of most of these experiments appear, in Qatar, all medicines are provided for the treatment of patients except for new, novel or not yet commercially produced medicines.
He said there is a new drug under trial in the US, which has been around for a while and is available in Qatar, the QNA report states. This drug reduces violent immune reaction and there are experiments in the US on the use of the drug. A comparison is made between patients who have taken this drug and those who haven't.
In Qatar, this drug is being used for some severe cases, Dr al-Khal explained.
On the effect of the virus on smokers or those who have undergone gastric sleeve surgery, he said that smoking in general weakens the immunity in the lungs, adding that smokers are more affected by the virus compared to non-smokers who are in the same age group. He added that for people who have had gastrectomies, there are no studies or indications that they are affected more by the coronavirus.