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TCM proving potent force in contagion fight

Wang Weiwu, a doctor with a background in both traditional Chinese and Western medicine, has developed a TCM prescription that is helping Xianning, Hubei province, achieve high recovery rates among novel coronavirus patients.

The remedy, composed of 12 different herbs, has shown promising results in preventing and treating the disease in the city, which has reported no new cases for 13 consecutive days as of the end of Thursday. The remedy has played a significant role in helping a large number of patients recover in the city.

Hospitals in the city have used the prescription on confirmed patients through the entire treatment process the moment they were admitted to hospitals. Patients were also asked to continue using the prescription for a week after being discharged.

Clinical practice proved that TCM has significant efficacy in treating the novel coronavirus pneumonia, a top official with the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine said on Friday.

Yu Yanhong, Party secretary and deputy head of the administration, said that among more than 50,000 patients recovered and discharged from hospitals across China, the majority were treated with traditional Chinese medicine, proving that a combined use of TCM and Western medicine is very effective.

Studies by several teams of experts have found that compared with using Western medicine alone, the combined use of TCM can quickly relieve fevers, coughs, fatigue and other symptoms, shorten hospitalization days and reduce the rate of deterioration, Yu said.

The First People's Hospital of Xianning has reported no severe or critical cases after using the TCM prescription along with Western medicine.

Many other areas, including isolation wards, fever clinics, prisons, nursing homes and other high-risk venues including public security bureaus, have also used the TCM remedy for prevention and no one has been infected.

Wang said in one clinical practice, 60 confirmed cases were treated with the TCM prescription alone and after 10 days of observation, 54 patients tested negative for the novel coronavirus.

"Judging from the clinical practice, it has proved a very ideal prescription from prevention to treatment," he said.

Wang graduated from the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences with a postdoctoral degree in TCM and Sweden's Karolinska Institute with a postdoctoral degree in the treatment of diabetes. Usually based in Sweden, Wang returned to Xianning in January to celebrate his mother's birthday.

When the outbreak began in Wuhan, Hubei's capital, in December, the virus soon spread to Xianning. Wang canceled his trip back to Sweden and a scholar visit to Harvard University in the United States in April, and chose to stay and join the expert group in Xianning to fight the epidemic.

"My thoughts were very simple. As a medical expert, it is definitely inappropriate to leave the country when I am most needed. Besides, leaving at this time also goes against my own conscience," he said.

In 2003, Wang joined in the fight against severe acute respiratory syndrome in Beijing and has been studying infectious diseases ever since. He said he wanted to come up with one single prescription for both prevention and treatment that is not too complicated.

"A good TCM prescription should be able to control the disease in an early stage before onset," he said, adding that he found this to be possible after conducting some research.

He said infectious diseases are normally caused by a single pathogen. Novel coronavirus pneumonia, for example, is caused by the novel coronavirus which proliferates and damages the immune system.

"If we start by controlling the virus and monitoring the immune system, we are able to cure the disease, and TCM has exactly this advantage," he said.

In mid-January, a family in Wuhan contacted Wang for help. They lived not far from the suspected source of the virus-a seafood market-and the 70-year-old mother showed symptoms of the disease but hadn't been able to undergo tests.

After analyzing her condition, Wang prescribed the prescription based on his previous research and the senior patient recovered after taking the medicine for a week. The news spread on social media, and Xianning authorities contacted Wang, expressing interest in his prescription.

On Jan 29, Wang officially joined the expert group of the city's disease prevention and control headquarters.

Du Guang, president of Xianning Central Hospital and also executive deputy leader of the headquarters, said that after learning about Wang's prescription he analyzed each component carefully and was "pleasantly surprised to find it a very good remedy from a pharmacological perspective".

Du recommended a comprehensive application of the prescription across the city on Jan 31 and clinical practice soon proved that it had very good efficacy. "So far, no one has been able to develop a single prescription that can cover the entire process from prevention to treatment of this new disease. I have to say this is an amazing feat," he said.

Wang said his prescription has proven clinically effective but it still needs more basic research. He hopes the remedy can be more widely used to help save more people and benefit people overseas as well. Now that the virus has spread worldwide, TCM can be more globally recognized, he added.

"From clinical observation, it is an effective medicine for not only novel coronavirus pneumonia, but also other respiratory infections," Wang said.


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