Use hydroxychloroquine for high-risk COVID-19 cases, recommends ICMR; drug to be used only as preventive measure: All you need to know
Hydroxychloroquine is an oral prescription drug that is primarily used to treat some kinds of malaria. However, some recent studies have indicated that it may also be useful to treat COVID-19.
The National Task Force for the novel coronavirus constituted by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine for high-risk cases.
However, ICMR Director-General Balram Bhargava said on Monday in a press conference, "Hydroxychloroquine is recommended only for a healthcare worker who is treating a COVID-19 patient. Secondly, it's recommended only for persons staying with and caring for a household patient who has been tested positive. They can take that only for prophylaxis — only for prevention."
Also, as per an advisory on the health ministry's website, this only applies to healthcare workers and caregivers who are asymptomatic.
The advisory, however, cautions that the usage of the medicine should not instill a "false sense of security", and that people using it should still public health measures such as using protective equipment (such as masks), frequent washing of hands and keeping a distance of at least one metre from the patient.
The ICMR has not recommended the drug for children below 15 years of age.
What is hydroxychloroquine?
Hydroxychloroquine has been recommended for prophylaxis (prevention of specific diseases) against the novel coronavirus. According to the health ministry's advisory, it has been proven effective against the novel coronavirus in laboratory tests and in-vivo studies (tests conducted on living organisms).
Hydroxychloroquine is an oral prescription drug that is primarily used to treat some kinds of malaria. However, some recent studies have indicated that it may also be useful to treat COVID-19. On 9 March, a study in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal in the United States found that it was effective against the novel coronavirus.
On Sunday, Jordan authorised physicians to use hydroxychloroquine along with an antiviral medicine as a treatment for COVID-19 in patients in an advanced stage of the disease, Al-Jazeera reported.
US president Donald Trump has also said that the medicine (along with another medicine named chloroquine) is a game-changer and has shown "very, very encouraging results". However, the head of the US' National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci has said that evidence of hydroxychloroquine's efficacy against COVID-19 is "anecdotal."
“It (testing) was not done in a controlled clinical trial, so you really can’t make any definitive statement about it,'' Fauci was quoted as saying in the Washington Post.
With inputs from agencies
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