Surgical oncologist and socially engaged Buddhist Dr. G. Govindaraj, based in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, has been at the forefront of India’s battle with its third wave of COVID-19, trialing low-dose radiotherapy (LDRT) among hospital patients recovering from SARS-Cov-2 infections.
Explaining the procedure used in the trials, Dr. Govindaraj, the lead investigator, has stated that the results of his study demonstrate that LDRT is effective as an anti-inflammatory treatment, reducing both lung inflammation and respiratory distress caused by COVID-19.
Dr. Govindaraj is a renowned senior oncologist affiliated with the Mahakaruna Medical Research Foundation (MMRF), a charitable hospital under the non-sectarian South Indian Buddhist Council (SIBC), and is the founder of the Harshamitra Super Speciality Cancer Centre in Tamil Nadu.
The SIBC, chaired by Rev. Gauthama Prabhu, governs five distinct organizations:
1. The Mahakaruna Medical Research Foundation.
2. The Dhamma Asoka Foundation (DAF), which runs spiritual practice and training programs.
3. The Foundation of His Sacred Majesty (FHSM), founded by Rev. Prabhu, which runs social outreach projects and is affiliated with the International Network of Engaged Buddhists.
4. The Tamil Buddhist Society (TBS), a Buddhist revival movement in southern India that runs the social museum campaign and coordinates programs for the SIBC.
5. Tipitaka Publishing House (TPH), the Buddhist publications arm.
“The SIBC endeavors to manifest Sukhavati on Earth, which is the goal of Buddhists,” SIBC chairman and FHSM founder Prabhu explained. “The Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana, Triratna Buddhist Community, and Zen are the vehicles that would carry the people toward Sukhavati. These five entities are intended to be the tools to help people overcome suffering.”
Interim results from 25 patients in Dr. Govindaraj’s trials were published in the August 2021 edition of the International Journal of Radiotherapy and Oncology, and indicated significant improvements in clinical and radiological metrics.
Dr. Govindaraj’s most significant finding was a dramatic reduction in oxygen demand—by up to 66 per cent—in trial patients within 48 hours of receiving LDRT. The majority of patients were recruited for the trial during India’s second wave of COVID-19, when the country was facing an acute oxygen-supply shortage.
These findings led several national institutes in India to investigate LDRT as a novel treatment modality. Meanwhile, the final results of Dr. Govindaraj’s trials were published in the November 2021 issue the International Journal of Radiotherapy and Oncology. The outcomes demonstrated significant clinical benefits following LDRT in terms of more rapid improvements in oxygen status, leading to earlier relief from respiratory distress, fewer days in hospital, and a potential reduction in the mortality rate.
“As India has entered its third wave of COVID-19, the pursuit of effective therapeutic modalities against emerging COVID-19 variants continues,” Rev. Prabhu shared with BDG. “Dr. Govindaraj’s trials at the Harshamitra Super-Speciality Cancer Centre in Tamil Nadu compared patients who received single-session LDRT and standard pharmacological therapy against those who received standard pharmacological therapy alone.”
“His findings indicate that LDRT may have a synergistic anti-inflammatory effect when combined with steroids, leading to an improved clinical response,” Rev. Gauthama Prabhu explained. “This additional anti-inflammatory effect could not be achieved by simply increasing the dose of steroids as this would lead to significant side effects. The promising findings of this study have drawn attention from the global scientific community as more countries face fresh outbreaks that are challenging healthcare systems.”
At the time of writing on 26 January, India had reported a total of 39.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 490,462 related deaths, with 1.67 billion vaccine doses administered. Globally, total cases have exceeded 358 million, with 5.6 million related deaths recorded and 9.85 billion vaccine doses administered.*
Tamil Buddhist Society (Facebook)
Foundation of His Sacred Majesty
Foundation of His Sacred Majesty (Facebook)
Foundation of His Sacred Majesty (LinkedIn)
Low-Dose Lung Radiation Therapy for COVID-19 Lung Disease: A Preclinical Efficacy Study in a Bleomycin Model of Pneumonitis (International Journal of Radiotherapy and Oncology)
Evaluating the Immunomodulatory Profile and Treatment Efficacy of Whole Lung Low-Dose Radiation Therapy (LDRT) in a Preclinical Model of Severe Viral Pneumonia (International Journal of Radiotherapy and Oncology)
Low dose radiotherapy helps reduce respiratory distress in COVID-19 patients: study (The Hindu)
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