The All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, is conducting a clinical trial to determine whether doing yoga and chanting the gayatri mantra, a religious hymn in Hinduism, can help in the recovery of coronavirus patients, The Hindu reported on Friday.

The clinical trial is being funded by the Centre’s Department of Science and Technology. It received the approval of the Indian Council of Medical Research’s clinical trial registry, which is mandatory before conducting any kind of study on humans.

The trial will be conducted on 20 patients with “moderate symptoms”, who will be divided into two equal groups. One of them will receive the standard treatment for Covid-19, while the other set of patients – in addition to getting the usual treatment – will be made to chant the hymn and perform the pranayama asana, for 14 days.

The pattern of recovery recorded in both groups will then be compared to check whether those who received the additional treatment show measurably improved markers for inflammation or cell-injury.

Before the trial, the levels of C-reactive protein, which measures the general level of inflammation in the body, will be recorded in all 20 patients. Other inflammatory markers such as Interleukin 6(IL6) levels, chest X-rays, will also be noted, according to Outlook.

After 14 days of the trial, the hospital will repeat all these tests on all patients to check if the group that chanted the gayatri mantra and did pranayama, experienced different inflammatory markers.

Doctors will also evaluate other possible differences, such as the time taken by the two groups to test negative, and the duration of their stay in hospitals. The patients will also be evaluated on whether they have reduced fatigue, or anxiety disorders.

Dr Ruchi Dua, pulmonologist and associate professor at AIIMS told The Hindu that recruitment for the study had already begun. “A postdoctoral researcher who researches yoga in the institute is also involved,” Dua said. “We will measure markers of inflammation via levels of C-reactive protein as well as a standard scale to measure health outcome over the next two-three months.”

A summary provided by AIIMS to the Clinical Trial Registry of India stated, “Coronavirus caused by SARS-CoV2 [coronavirus] is one of the major viruses that primarily targets the human respiratory system. The Gayatri Mantra is the most sacred prayer of the Hindus. There is no effective treatment or vaccine for this virus as of yet.”

It added that scientists “are racing against time” for a miracle cure or a vaccine to fight this pandemic. “In this scenario, role of pranayama and Gayatri mantra chanting which has been used in other diseases and has shown promising effects becomes vital,” the summary said.