Govt ready to use ARVs to tackle possible Coronavirus outbreak – Moyo

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By Anna Chibamu

HEALTH and Child Care Minister, Obadiah Moyo says government was ready to use anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) to reduce the impact of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) should the country experience such cases in future.

In a ministerial statement he delivered to parliament on the country’s situation regarding coronavirus this past week, Moyo allayed fears of any outbreak in the country after social media was awash a Zimbabwean woman in Harare was being diagnosed for possible infection after returning from China recently.

“I want to indicate to the Honourable Members here present that please be wary and be aware of the fact that there is no vaccine yet for the control of Coronavirus or COVID-19.

“What is available at the moment is as a result of some tests which were carried out by the Chinese and also one of the nations in Asia where they found that the use of the current anti-retrovirals, (ARVs), one specific one called KALETRA which is a combination anti-retroviral which has Lopinavir and ritonavir and also if using combination – with another booster called anti-interferon or an alpha-interferon, can be able to reduce or stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“So that is the only form of treatment which is there at the moment.

“There are quite a number of cases of people who have been saved from this particular combination treatment.”

Moyo added, “At the moment, I want to also indicate that we are lucky that we have that KALETRA available here in Zimbabwe and we have made sure that it is distributed to all our treatment centres.

“What we are building on is the availability of the booster the alpha-interferon and we should be having it by next week, but with the KALETRA, we can be able to manage the patients with ease.”

The dreaded disease has devastated mainland China since December last year amid continued fears it could spread into Zimbabwe, a country with weak health delivery systems.