To respond to questions about COVID-19 infections, Lu Hongzhou, president of the Third People’s Hospital of Shenzhen and a public health expert, offered advice on COVID-19 treatment in an exclusive interview with Shenzhen Evening News on Saturday.
According to Lu, the first five days after infection is the best time for treatment. “We found in previous clinical practice that the first week was basically mild infections, and by the second week, most patients would recover and very few would develop into severe cases,” Lu said.
The health expert explained that after COVID infection, the virus will replicate rapidly in the human body. Senior citizens and other people susceptible to infection need to use antiviral drugs as soon as possible once the infection is confirmed.
Some people may not have obvious symptoms or fever at the initial stage of infection, but this is not a good sign. The absence of fever may be caused by the body’s inability to mobilize the immune system to fight against the virus, he said.
“Once infected, seek medical treatment in a timely manner. Don’t wait until the second week or the third week when the condition gets worse. By then, the best time for treatment has passed,” Lu warned.
According to Lu, compared with previous viral strains, the Omicron variant is more infectious and less pathogenic, mainly attacking the upper respiratory tract of the human body. However, in older adults, cancer patients, immunocompromised people and other vulnerable groups, the virus may still attack the lungs, leading to various organ failure and severe illness.
“For patients who may develop severe illness, our hospital will intervene in advance after they are admitted, using antiviral drugs and small-molecule, orally administered drugs to quickly clear the virus in the body,” he said.
Healthy young adults that get infected can take some Chinese patent medicines, antipyretic drugs and analgesics targeting specific symptoms at home, Lu advised.
He added that some people with chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, as well as pregnant women have been identified as high-risk groups with potential to develop severe illness. Children are also likely to develop severe illness.
Lu suggested that senior citizens, pregnant women and other groups with weak immunity, even young adults, get a second booster shot so that the symptoms will not be too serious even if infected.
He said that if citizens were vaccinated with inactivated vaccines in the past and need to get an additional booster shot, it is recommended to receive a recombinant protein vaccine or an adenovirus-vectored vaccine.
“One to two weeks after vaccination, older adults, cancer patients and other vulnerable groups can be effectively protected from progressing to severe illness after infection,” Lu said.
Meanwhile, as the Spring Festival is approaching, Lu noted that many people will travel at that time. It is suggested that all citizens in need of a second booster shot should get inoculated, to allow time for their bodies to build immunity.