Japan will begin treating COVID-19 patients recovering at home with an antibody cocktail as soon as possible, health minister Norihisa Tamura said Thursday.
Speaking at a House of Councilors committee meeting, Tamura said that the central government is planning to swiftly introduce the treatment, aimed at preventing people from developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, in several locations and will eventually implement the treatment nationwide after identifying issues.
As the cocktail treatment is administered to patients through an intravenous drip, the treatment has been used mainly on hospitalized patients.
While medical institutions are able to use the treatment for outpatients who are recovering at home, the treatment is not available for home visits yet.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has told the health ministry to find a way to offer the treatment at patients’ homes.
Tamura pointed to the need to establish a health management system using medical personnel.
“There’s a risk of patients developing side effects in the first hour (after receiving the cocktail treatment), and we must create a system in which we’ll be able to respond immediately to (a sudden) deterioration in health condition within the first 24 hours of the treatment,” he said.
Shigeru Omi, who chairs a government panel on the country’s COVID-19 response, warned that the government’s plan to ease restrictions on people’s activities could lead to a rebound in infections.
“I ask that the government firmly tell the people that it won’t relax (restrictions) while (the country) is under a state of emergency,” he added.
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