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TCM treatment effective against novel coronavirus, says official

By Yang Wanli in Beijing and Liu Kun in Wuhan | | Updated: 2020-02-20 20:46
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Yu Yanhong, Party chief and deputy head of the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, attends a news conference on the control of the novel coronavirus spread in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Thursday. [Photo provided to]

Integrating traditional Chinese medicine with Western medicine to treat the novel coronavirus patients has been proven to be effective, a top official with the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine said on Thursday.

"A large number of clinical practices have confirmed the effect of the combined treatment of TCM and Western medicine on new coronavirus pneumonia patients," said Yu Yanhong, Party chief and deputy head of the administration, also a member of the central government work group guiding epidemic control work in Central China's Hubei province.

She said TCM can rapidly improve symptoms in patients with mild symptoms, shorten the course of illness for patients with severe symptoms, and reduce the possibility of mild infections from becoming severe.

Citing the latest clinical research on 102 patients with light symptoms, Yu said TCM treatment can shorten the average length of patient stay in the hospital by 2.2 days while enhancing the recovery rate by 33 percent compared with the control group.

The transfer rate from medium symptoms to severe symptoms dropped by 27.4 percent and the number of lymphocytes, an important indicator of the health condition of patients who are recovering, increased by 70 percent, according to the clinical research.

Yu said the central leadership has paid great attention to the epidemic control work and President Xi Jinping has made clear instruction to constantly improve the diagnosis and treatment plan, and integrate TCM with Western medicine in the treatment of novel coronavirus pneumonia.

"The early participation of TCM in the treatment of the novel coronavirus pneumonia has produced a notable effect," she said.

Administration data released on Monday showed that TCM had been prescribed to 60,107 infected patients, or 85.2 percent, of the total infections nationwide.

In South China's Guangdong province, 1,245 confirmed novel coronavirus patients - as many as 94 percent of all the patients in the province - had received TCM treatment apart from Western medicine methods by Tuesday, TCM experts said at a press conference in Guangzhou on Wednesday. And TCM proved effective in 89 percent of the cases, they added.

Apart from medicines, TCM treatment also included acupuncture, ear acupuncture point application and Baduanjin (a fitness practice with a history of 800 years), improving patients' sleep and facilitating their recovery, said Chen Ning, director of the Pulmonary Disease Department of the Guangdong Second Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital.

Yu said one herbal concoction, known as Qingfei Paidu Soup, which mixes ephedra and licorice root among other ingredients, has emerged as an effective prescription and has been listed in the latest diagnosis and treatment guide book.

Official data shows that as of Thursday, 3,200 TCM-trained medical workers have participated in treating novel coronavirus patients in Hubei province.

Four batches of national-level TCM teams comprising 588 people are now stationed in four medical institutions in Hubei, including the newly-built Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan.

Ten national-level TCM expert teams also have been organized to make regular visits in several major designated hospitals. Currently, each mobile cabin hospital in the province has two to three TCM doctors.

"We will deepen the cooperation with western medical treatment. Also, the treatment plan that mixes TCM with Western medicines will be further improved to form a mechanism and play a more important role to fight against the disease," Yu said.

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