Covid-19: AIIMS chief warns against banking on Hydroxychloroquine as cure

Hydroxychloroquine or HCQ is a much sought-after medicine after preliminary trials in China suggested it boosted recovery and lowered the severity of coronavirus disease.

Hydroxychloroquine is not a magic bullet for Covid-19 and can be harmful for the general public, Dr Randeep Guleria, Director of Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) has warned.

Hydroxychloroquine or HCQ, anti-malarial drug, has emerged as a much sought-after medicine after preliminary trials in China suggested it boosted recovery and lowered the severity of coronavirus disease.

“Hydroxychloroquine is not a treatment for everyone. It can have cardiac toxicity leading to irregular heartbeat. Like any other drug, this also has side effects. It can do more harm than good for the general public,” Dr Guleria told ANI.

He said the data is not strong enough to support that HCQ is a cure for Covid-19 but since no other treatment is available, it was felt that the drug should be used.

“Some lab data show that hydroxychloroquine may have some effects in Covid-19. But the data are not that strong. Experts at ICMR felt that it may be helpful in close contacts of Covid-19 patients and healthcare workers taking care of the patients. Studies in China and France say that combination of HCQ and Azithromycin may be helpful if given to Covid-19 patients with moderate to severe illness. Since, no other treatment is available, it was felt that it should be used,” Dr Guleria said

On Thursday, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said that it won’t recommend hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19 patients unless satisfactory results are seen during tests.

ICMR said hydroxychloroquine is recommended only to those asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 and asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases.

India produces nearly 70 per cent of the world’s supply of HCQ. India recently agreed to export the medicine to the United States following a request by President Donald Trump who had said that the drug would be a game-changer in the battle against Covid-19 pandemic.

India had banned the export of hydroxychloroquine and any formulation containing it on March 25. Earlier this month, the government expanded the ban to cover exports from special economic zones, blocking pending orders, including from the US before it decided to accede to Trump’s request.

Source: India Today

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