An Indian American physician in Kansas City, Kansas, has launched a scientific study to find out whether prayer might make a difference in treating people suffering from COVID-19.
A cardiologist at the Kansas City Heart Rhythm Institute in Overland Park, Kansas, Dr. Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy is the principal investigator in a clinical trial involving 1000 patients with COVID-19 infections severe enough that they require intensive care, according to an NPR report.
The four-month study, launched on May 1, will investigate "the role of remote intercessory multi-denominational prayer on clinical outcomes in COVID-19 patients," according to a description provided to the National Institutes of Health.
"It has to be a true supernatural intervention," said Lakkireddy in the report.
Half of the patients, randomly chosen, will receive a "universal" prayer offered in five denominational forms, via Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism. The other 500 patients will constitute the control group. All the patients will receive the standard of care prescribed by their medical providers.
Lakkireddy has assembled a steering committee of medical professionals to oversee the study. "We all believe in science, and we also believe in faith," Lakkireddy was quoted as saying in the NPR report. "If there is a supernatural power, which a lot of us believe, would that power of prayer and divine intervention change the outcomes in a concerted fashion? That was our question."
The investigators will assess how long the patients remain on ventilators, how many suffer from organ failure, how quickly they are released from intensive care and how many die.
Lakkireddy describes himself as "born into Hinduism," but he says he attended a Catholic school and has spent time in synagogues, Buddhist monasteries, and mosques.
"I believe in the power of all religions," he said. "I think if we believe in the wonders of God and the universal good of any religion, then we've got to combine hands and join the forces of each of these faiths together for the single cause of saving humanity from this pandemic."