The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-constituted National Task Force COVID-19 recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of high-risk coronavirus patients in India. The outbreak has claimed ten lives and infected almost 500 in the country.
The ICMR National Task Force said only high-risk cases could be placed under chemoprophylaxis with hydroxy-chloroquine. Dr Balram Bhargava, the Director-General, ICMR, said, “Hydroxychloroquine is recommended only for a healthcare worker who is treating a #COVID patient. Secondly, it's recommended only for persons staying and caring for a household positive patient. They can take that only for prophylaxis, only for prevention.”
The ANI reported that the process of manufacturing the coronavirus test kits had been fast-tracked at ICMR-NIV Pune.
The task force also warned the health workers that placing them under chemoprophylaxis should not instil a sense of false security in them. The health-workers workers have been asked to follow the prescribed measures of frequent hand-washing, respiratory etiquettes, and also keeping a safe distance of a metre minimum, along with the use of personal protective equipment. ICMR does not recommend the drug for children below the age of 15.
Hydroxychloroquine has been recommended for prophylaxis (prevention of specific diseases) against the novel coronavirus. The health ministry’s advisory calls it effective against the novel coronavirus in lab tests and in-vivo studies (tests conducted on living organisms).
It is an oral prescribed drug, which is used for malaria treatments. World Health Organisation (WHO) includes it on its list of ‘essential medicines’, which should be kept affordable and accessible at all times.
Recent studies have indicated that it may be useful to treat the novel coronavirus. Last week, a report from Tech Start-ups suggested that France showed 100% recovery of patients that received a combination of hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin tested negative and were virologically cured within six days of treatment.
According to Al-Jazeera, Jordan physicians have been authorised to use hydroxychloroquine along with an antiviral medicine as a treatment for COVID-19 in patients in an advanced stage of the disease. Even the US President Donald Trump has called the medicine a game-changer because of the encouraging results and believes it poses fewer risks than a newer developed drug. New York is already procuring 70,000 doses of hydroxychloroquine and 750,000 doses of chloroquine.
PROMISE AND ACTUAL EFFICACY?
Though the drug has shown immense promises in the test tubes, some sections also are of the opinion that the evidence of hydroxychloroquine’s efficacy against the coronavirus is “anecdotal.”
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who has appeared alongside President Trump at several news conferences, has said that with respect to the SARS strain, 'the drugs’ effectiveness was never vetted in a clinical trial'.
Though he doesn’t rule out the possibility of it curing the novel coronavirus, Fauci believes more data is required to “show it is truly safe and effective under the conditions of Covid-19.”