Fact Check: Is Hydroxychloroquine Really Effective Against Coronavirus?
New Delhi: India and hydroxychloroquine have almost become synonymous in the recent days, with US President Donald Trump asking the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to remove the export ban on the drug.
The anti-malaria drug, commonly used in India has emerged as a medicine of choice for treating COVID-19 patients. However, there is little verifiable evidence to conclude it really works, reported The New Indian Express (NIE).
In India, the drug along with antibiotic azithromycin was recently included in the clinical management guideline for COVID-19 patients. It replaced anti-HIV drugs Lopinavir, Ritonavir issued by the Union Health Ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) with the rider that the two drugs should be given to only those needing ICU care.
Additionally, the government also said that these medications are not recommended for children less than 12 years, pregnant and lactating women at present.
Quoting sources, The New Indian Express reported that the revision had come as a study published in the New England Journal said that the anti-HIV drug combination did not work on 199 patients analysed. Another study from France said that the anti-malarial and antibiotic combination helped 78 out of 80 patients analysed.
An independent study from China also supported hydroxychloroquine-Azithromycin combination, it reported.
The government had also said that hydroxychloroquine should be taken by healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients and close contacts of those who have tested positive to prevent the infection. No evidence, however, was cited for this endorsement, The New Indian Express reported further.
In the daily briefing on the outbreak, the government clarified on Monday that since there was limited evidence on hydroxychloroquine so far, it was not being recommended for public use yet. This statement came even as reports have emerged that many people, including doctors, were taking the drug prophylactically leading to its shortage in the market.
As per available information, ICMR has not started any randomised clinical trials to assess the efficacy of the drug in the country, said NIE