Published: 01st December 2020
What we can learn from humanity, medicine's fight against HIV, in order to fight COVID-19
While coronavirus is still novel, humanity and medicine's battle against HIV and AIDS has been a long one and therefore lessons learned from it can be used for fighting Covid-19
While there are different ways in which the coronavirus impacts human health and body, a major system of the human body that it affects directly is the immune system. Though belonging to a different family, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) has a similar approach to affecting the body as it also affects the immune system. While coronavirus is still novel, humanity and medicine's battle against HIV and AIDS has been a long one and therefore lessons learned from it can be used for fighting Covid-19.
"The important lesson that doctors, epidemiologists, public health experts, and virologists around the world fighting against AIDS have learned is that treatments and combination of medicines (triple drug anti-retroviral therapy) can be our most important weapon rather than concentrating all the resources towards developing vaccines," Dr Mohammad Mubasheer Ali, senior consultant internal medicine at Apollo tele health said.
"A more individualistic, patient centric treatment approach has to be devised and implemented in treating COVID presently till the vaccine is available. We already know resistance to single drugs will bedevil COVID-19 treatments. We have seen resistance to single, anti-SARS-CoV-2 drugs develop rapidly in many studies," he added.
Ali further stated that just like AIDS, the healthcare experts will have to use a combination of medicines to treat COVID-19 instead of relying on or devising a single medicine for it. "Just as with AIDS, we need a combination of medicines to treat this disease. The goal of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries now is to develop an array of highly potent and specific drugs, each of which targets a different function of the virus," he said. "Decades of research on HIV has shown the way and gives us confidence in our eventual success," he added.
Dr Rakesh Nongthombam on the other hand stresses on "universal power of collaboration beyond borders" just like it was done in the case of AIDS. "One of the biggest lessons that humanity has learnt from the fight against AIDS is the universal power of collaboration beyond borders. Just as AIDS had facilitated R&D on drugs and their testing across population segments on a global basis notwithstanding the end-result, the ongoing trials for Covid-19 vaccine are being conducted in the same spirit of coordination and synergy in different countries," said Dr Rakesh Nongthombam, Anaesthesiology Max ventilator.
Nongthombam also stated how both AIDS and COVID-19 have created more awareness in society about two different issues. "Similar to AIDS, the collaborative umbrella for Covid-19 has extended beyond the healthcare community to embrace government, industries, and civil societies," he said. "Also, just as AIDS had catalyzed a world-wide movement for safer sex, Covid-19 has triggered nearly life-changing habits and practices in terms of hand hygiene, social distancing, and in general keeping more aware of infections and diseases," he added.