KOCHI: Kunjumon PC was one of the first Covid positive persons to be administered the
monoclonal antibody or cocktail drug in May, soon after it was approved in India “for
restricted use in emergency situation for mild to moderate Covid patients who are at high risk
of developing severe disease”.

“Three days after testing positive for the virus, I had severe pneumonia, fatigue and body
pain. My oxygen levels dropped and I ended up in an unconscious state in the ICU.

As most Covid drugs available at that time were ineffective, the doctors took my family’s
consent to administer the newlyintroduced cocktail drug. Gradually, my condition improved
and after a month of hospitalization I left the hospital hale and hearty. It is God’s miracle and
the cocktail drug that saved my life,” said 54-year-old Kunjumon.

Now six months later, the monoclonal antibody drug, along with vaccination, is saving lives
and preventing hospitalisations in Kerala, even as the daily case numbers remain high,
doctors said. Unlike Kunjumon, who was administered the drug after hospitalisation, an
increasing number of Covid positive patients, including doctors—many of them victims of
breakthrough infection—are now opting for monoclonal antibody treatment much before they
are plagued by Covid complications.

“Many Covid patients now walk into the hospital, take the cocktail drug and go home. There
is virtually no side effect reported yet and you are protected from severe infection and
hospitalisation,” said former Indian Medical Association (IMA) president Dr VG Pradeep
Kumar, who took the drug recently after he developed Covid-related respiratory symptoms
despite getting two doses of vaccination.

Global studies show that after taking the cocktail drug there is a 70% decrease in
progression to severe disease in Covid patients and a similar trend is being observed in
Kerala too.

“When we counsel high risk Covid patients, more than 90% of them are willing to take the
drug. We have given the drug to nearly 400 patients in our hospital and progression to severe
illness was seen in only 12 patients,” said Dr Muhammed Niyas, Infectious Disease, KIMS
Health.

The demand for the drug is huge not just in private hospitals but even in government medical
colleges. “In most government hospitals, the drug is out of stock now and they have raised
requests via hospital stores. But it is a very expensive drug,” said a senior health official. The
drug costs anywhere between Rs 55,000-Rs 60,000 in private hospitals while government
hospitals administer them free.

“We advise administering this drug especially to high-risk individuals and
immunocompromised unvaccinated Covid patients. However, it is an expensive drug and
people need to understand that vaccination is the key to protecting and preventing the
spread of infection,” said Dr Chandini R, chairperson, State Medical Board.

Majority of hospitals treating Covid patients have administered the cocktail drug to a
minimum of 100 mild to moderate Covid patients in the high-risk group and most of them
have recovered without needing any hospitalisation.

“Recovery trials establish the use of monoclonal antibody in sick cases too. Ideally, in ICU
cases, antibody response must be tested and if not mounted yet, an antibody cocktail can be
used before intubation and it saves lives without procedures which are too capital intensive,”
added Dr Joseph K Joseph, consultant, internal medicine and diabetologist at VPS
Lakeshore Hospital, who treated Kunjumon.

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