In a new initiative to fight the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the DRDO released the first batch of anti-COVID drug 2-DG. The drug aimed at being the prominent anti-COVID-19 medication for Indians was released by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.

According to the DRDO (Defence Research & Development Organisation) the anti-COVID drug is the world’s first “indigenous research-based outcome” that is aimed to “reduce recovery time and oxygen dependency”. The drug will be available in a powder form in sachet and can be taken orally by dissolving it in water.

Also read: Anti-COVID-19 Drug approved by DCGI, developed by DRDO for emergency use


Who did DRDO collaborate to produce the anti-COVID drug 2-DG?

The drug is a collaborative effort of DRDO’s Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS) division and Hyderabad based Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories. It should be noted that Dr. Reddy’s has already partnered with Russia to produce Sputnik-V and Sputnik Light, two COVID-19 vaccines that will be added in the vaccine basket of India.

How does 2-DG work?

According to the official press release of the drug, the 2-DG prevents virus growth by stopping the viral synthesis and energy production. It targets all the virus-infected cells and its accumulation of all the infected-cells makes it unlike any other COVID-19 related medications. The data trial shows that the molecules released by the drug can decrease the recovery time of hospitalized patients and decrease their dependency on supplemental oxygen.

According to the government release, clinical trial data show that the molecule helps in faster recovery of patients hospitalized with Covid-19, and reduces their dependence on supplemental oxygen.

The drug accumulates in virus-infected cells, and prevents the growth of the virus by stopping viral synthesis and energy production. Its selective accumulation in virally-infected cells makes this drug unique, the release said.

When were the clinical trials taken place?

The first set of experiments were carried out during the onset of the first COVID-19 wave in 2020. In May 2020, the INMAS and DRDO were given permission by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) to carry out the 2nd phase of the clinical trials.

Dr. Reddy’s laboratories and DRDO conducted the 2nd phase of the trials in 2020, between May and October. The 2nd phase was divided into 2 micro phases – 2a & 2b. While 2a was conducted in 6 hospitals across India, 2b was conducted across 11 hospitals.

After the successful trials and satisfactory data, the DCGI gave a green signal to the drug maker for the 3rd phase of the clinical trials in November 2020. The 3rd phase was conducted between December last year till March 2021. The clinical trials saw the participation of 220 patients across 27 hospitals in Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.

What did the clinical trial data show?

The 2-DG was found safe and effective in the 2nd phase of the clinical trials which is conducted to test the safety and efficacy of most drugs. The government released said that COVID-19 patients displayed significant improvement and recoveries. The government released said that the patients that were given 2-DG “showed faster symptomatic cure than Standard of Care (SoC) on various endpoints”.

“A significantly favourable trend (2.5 days difference) was seen in terms of the median time to achieving normalisation of specific vital signs parameters when compared to SoC.”

-said the release further.

The third phase of the clinical trials showed that there was a “significantly higher proportion of patients improved symptomatically and became free from supplemental oxygen dependence (42% vs 31%) by Day 3 in comparison to SoC, indicating an early relief from oxygen therapy/dependence.” The trend was similar for those who were above 65 and had taken part in the trials.


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