DRDO’s Anti-Covid Drug: What is 2DG medicine? How does it work- Everything you need to know!

DRDO's anti-Covid drug 2-DG  accumulates in the virus-infected cells and prevents virus growth by stopping viral synthesis and energy production. What makes this drug unique is its selective accumulation in virally infected cells.

Created On: May 17, 2021 15:22 ISTModified On: May 18, 2021 15:28 IST
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh launches DRDO's anti-Covid drug 2-DG

DRDO’s Anti-Covid Drug: Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh released the first batch of DRDO's Anti-Covid Drug 2DG for treating COVID-19 patients on May 17, 2021. The Defence Minister handed over the first batch of the  2-DG medicine to Union Health Minister Dr. Harshvardhan at a formal launch event. 

The anti-covid drug 2-DG has been developed by DRDO's Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS) in collaboration with Dr Reddy's Laboratories (DRL). Rajnath Singh said in a tweet that it is a perfect example of India’s scientific prowess and a milestone in the efforts towards self-reliance.

The Minister said that he would personally like to felicitate the scientists who played a major role in the development of the drug when the situation improves, as they deserve credit for this wonderful achievement.

What is anti-COVID drug 2-DG?

The 2-DG drug comes in a sachet in powder form. It is taken orally by dissolving it in water. 

How does 2-DG drug work?

The drug accumulates in the virus-infected cells and prevents virus growth by stopping viral synthesis and energy production. What makes this drug unique is its selective accumulation in virally infected cells.


The anti-COVID drug 2-DG is expected to play a crucial role in winning the fight against COVID-19. The Union Defence Minister noted that the development and production of the drug is a shining example of a public-private sector partnership to help the nation in these challenging times.

Key Highlights 

•The first batch of the 2-DG (2-deoxy-D-glucose) drug comprises about 10,000 doses. It will soon be given to the patients. 

•Drug manufacturers are working on increasing the production of the medicine for future use. 

•The drug has been developed by a team of DRDO scientists including Dr. Anant Narayan Bhatt.

•The clinical trials of the drug showed that it helps in the faster recovery of hospitalised patients and reduces supplemental oxygen dependence. A higher proportion of patients being treated with the 2-DG drug showed RT-PCR negative conversion in COVID patients. 

•The drug is expected to be of immense benefit to the people suffering from COVID-19.

How was anti-Covid drug 2-DG developed?

•DRDO took the initiative of developing an anti-COVID therapeutic application of 2-DG in April 2020 in line with PM Narendra Modi's call for preparedness against the pandemic.

•The INMAS-DRDO scientists conducted lab experiments with the help of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad. 

•The experiments showed that the molecule works effectively against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and restricts viral growth.

•Based on these results, the DCGI's (Drugs Controller General of India) Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) permitted Phase-II clinical trials of the 2-DG in COVID-19 patients in May 2020.

•DRDO along with DRL started clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of the drug in COVID-19 patients.

2-DG drug: Phase II Clinical Trial Results

•The Phase-II clinical trials were conducted between May and October 2020. During the trials, the drug was found to be safe in COVID-19 patients and it showed significant improvement in their recovery. 

•The Phase IIa trial was conducted in six hospitals and Phase IIb (dose-ranging) clinical trial was conducted at 11 hospitals across the nation. 

•Overall, the Phase-II clinical trials involved over 110 patients.

•The patients treated with 2-DG showed faster symptomatic cure than Standard of Care (SoC) on various endpoints.

•A favourable trend was seen in the median time to achieve normalisation of specific vital signs parameters. 

•Following these successful results, the DGCI approval Phase-III clinical trials in November 2020. 

2-DG drug: Phase III Clinical Trial Results

•The Phase-III clinical trials of 2-DG involved 220 patients and was conducted at 27 COVID hospitals in Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Telangana and Tamil Nadu between December 2020 to March 2021. 

•The phase III clinical trial data showed that a significantly higher proportion of patients improved symptomatically and became free from supplemental oxygen dependence by Day-3 in comparison to SoC (42 percent vs 31 percent), which indicated an early relief from Oxygen dependence.

•This was also observed in patients aged more than 65 years. 

•Following the submission of these results, the DCGI on May 1, 2021 granted permission for the Emergency Use of the drug as an adjunct therapy in moderate to severe COVID-19 patients.

•The 2-DG drug is a generic molecule and analogue of glucose and hence, it can be easily produced and made available in large quantities in the country.


The second wave of the COVID-19 has turned out to be deadly for India with a large number of patients facing severe oxygen dependency resulting in the need for urgent hospitalisation

The 2-DG drug is expected to save precious lives due to the mechanism of operation of the drug in infected cells. This can also reduce the hospital stay of COVID-19 patients. 

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