Trial of treatments for COVID-19 gathers steam

By Ji Jing

At the Jiangxia Hospital, a hospital converted from the Dahuashan Outdoor Sports Center in Jiangxia District in Wuhan, a national team of over 200 traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) experts are using TCM to treat mildly infected patients. Among the converted hospitals in Wuhan, the city where the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic has been the most severe, the Jiangxia Hospital is the only one to provide mainly TCM treatments.
Every morning, TCM experts, after examining patients’ pulse and tongue, give them decoctions to treat COVID-19. Patients are also given granulated medicine for fever, cough, anxiety and insomnia.
Auxiliary treatments are used as well, such as auricular therapy, stimulating of pressure points on the ear, and moxibustion, burning moxa, a cone or stick made of ground mugwort leaves, on or near the body’s meridians and pressure points. In addition, patients are taught tai chi, a Chinese martial art practiced for both defense and health benefits. For patients who need them, the hospital also provides some Western treatments.
According to the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (NATCM), by February 21, nearly 3,200 TCM doctors from across the country had been sent to Hubei Province in central China where Wuhan is located. Of them, 700 took up their posts at four hospitals in Wuhan, including the Jiangxia Hospital.
TCM prescriptions are part of the national treatment guidelines for COVID-19. According to the NATCM, by February 17, over 60,000 patients confirmed with COVID-19, or 85.2 percent of all confirmed cases, had been treated with TCM.
The NATCM has conducted clinical trials in Shanxi, Hebei, Heilongjiang and Shaanxi provinces to select effective prescriptions and promote them nationwide.
“We have introduced TCM since the onset of the epidemic and combined it with Western medicine in the treatment. Clinical practice indicates that combined Chinese and Western medical treatment is effective in treating the novel coronavirus pneumonia,”
Yu Yanhong, an NATCM official, said at a press conference held by the State Council Information Office in Wuhan on February 20.
“In mild cases, TCM can help treat fever, cough and lack of strength, reduce the time of hospitalization, and prevent mild cases from developing into serious ones. In critical cases, TCM can alleviate symptoms and reduce the death rate,” Yu added.
According to her, research has shown that mildly infected patients who received a combination of Chinese and Western medical treatment had their clinical symptoms disappear two days earlier than the normal time. Their temperature returned to normal 1.7 days earlier and hospitalization time was reduced by 2.2 days on average.
TCM has also been administered to those who have been in close contact with the infected or those susceptible to the disease to improve their immunity and prevent and reduce infection. It is also used on patients with mild symptoms.
Blood plasma collected from people who have recovered from COVID-19 is being used in critical cases. On February 14, research proving the effectiveness and safety of using plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to treat critically ill patients passed ethical review at the Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan. The treatment has also been included in the national treatment guideline.
ZengFandian, a professor of clinical pharmacology at Tongji Medical College in Wuhan, explained the use of plasma in the treatment of COVID-19 patients in an interview with Wuhan Evening News. When the virus attacks, the human body produces antibody to fight the invader. After the patients recover, the antibody remains in their plasma.
– The Daily Mail-Beijing Review News exchange item