India, for the first time, used the Lopinavir/ Ritonavir combination, a second line Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) medication, to treat an Italian couple who have tested positve for the coronavirus infection. The couple, who were touring India, tested positive in Jaipur last month, the Indian Express reported.

The officials said the medication was given to them after receiving their consent.

The Indian Express quoting Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said: “Yes, ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) has taken approval for use of second line HIV drugs on COVID patients, but this Lopinavir/ Ritonavir combination therapy has been approved for emergency use among COVID-19 patients with moderate degree of severity, with laid down protocols. Till now, this combination therapy has been given to two Italian patients hospitalised in Jaipur.”

The health officials revealed that it is too early to say whether the medication will work. They added that the drug, which has some side-effects, was also used in China to treat coronavirus patients, the Indian Express report said.

The ICMR, the apex medical research body in the country, has got approval to use second line HIV medications, which have been restricted for “use in public health emergency.” Seventy per cent of the HIV patients are on first line drugs.

India manufactures the second line medicines for export, mostly to African countries. The combination of Lopinavir and Ritonavir has been approved for emergency medical use if the COVID-19 situation in India turns into a public health emergency.

So far, 46 people in the country have tested positive for COVID-19, while no death has been reported so far, media reports said.