After a former passenger disembarked in Hong Kong tested positive for the virus on 1 February, Japanese authorities stopped the Diamond Princess from sailing off the coast of the country. For more than two weeks, more than 2,600 guests and crew were stuck onboard in quarantine.
As of March 6 in 2020, the total number of confirmed cases with coronavirus (COVID-19) on the cruise ship Diamond Princess, which is docked Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan, reached 696 patients. Six passengers have died as a result of the virus.
Much has been written about the failures of the Diamond Princess, many claiming that the quarantine could haven been handled a lot better, potentially saving lives. But, at least there is also some good news to come out of this situation.
After receiving news from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases that an asthma drug could be effective against respiratory diseases, Japanese doctors administered the drug to patients onboard the cruise ship who had pneumonia.
The doctors from the Ashigarakami hospital in Kanagawa Prefecture gave the asthma drug to three patients, all over 65 years of age and on oxygen support. The drug called Ciclesonide is a a steroid inhalant that suppresses the immune system. Ciclesonide reaches the lungs where it can reduce inflammation.
Remarkably, all three patients improved their pneumonia symptoms within two days. One of the patients, a 73-year-old woman, was even discharged.
Of course, this is very small sample size but even so, the results are highly promising. If the results can be replicated by other institutions across hundreds of patients, we might have a new powerful tool in our arsenal against COVID-19. That being said, you shouldn’t self-medicate with the asthma drug if you think you have COVID-19 — always seek professional medical help first.
As of March 10, there are over 115,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world, with 4,051 fatalities.