A pack of Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate medication | Bloomberg
Packets of Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate medication | Bloomberg
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New Delhi: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the country’s apex body in the field, has found that consuming the drug hydroxychloroquine reduces the chances of getting infected with Covid-19.

As a result, ICMR released an advisory Friday to expand the usage of HCQ — an anti-malarial drug — as a preventive treatment against the novel coronavirus.

The conclusion has been drawn on the basis of three studies conducted by the ICMR.

The advisory suggests surveillance workers, paramilitary and police personnel, as well as medical staff working in non-Covid hospitals and blocks to start consuming the pill as “preventive therapy”.

ICMR had issued an advisory to begin using HCQ in March, but it had drawn criticism for lacking scientific evidence that the drug works against the novel coronavirus.


Also read: How the humble hydroxychloroquine has become India’s unlikely new global strategic asset


The studies

According to the advisory, the premier health body undertook investigation at three central government hospitals in New Delhi. While it did not reveal the names of the hospitals, it said the investigation indicates that “amongst healthcare workers involved in Covid-19 care, those on HCQ prophylaxis were less likely to develop SARS-CoV-2 infection, compared to those who were not on it”.

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The advisory also states that the National Institute of Virology in Pune has found in laboratory testing that HCQ reduces the viral load.

The ICMR also analysed data collected previously, known as retrospective case-control analysis, and found “a significant” relationship between “the number of doses taken and frequency of occurrence of Covid-19 infection in symptomatic healthcare workers who were tested for SARS-CoV-2 infection”.

It further said “the benefit was less pronounced in healthcare workers caring for a general patient population”.

Another observational study was conducted among 334 healthcare workers at the country’s largest public hospital, New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). The 248 workers who took HCQ as preventive drug for an average of six weeks had lower incidence of the infection than those not taking the pill.

Which workers will use it now?

Based on the findings of the studies, the government has decided to administer the drug as a ‘prophylaxis’ or preventive therapy to asymptomatic healthcare workers working in non-Covid hospitals as well as non-Covid blocks of hospitals earmarked for Covid treatment.

Asymptomatic frontline workers, such as surveillance workers deployed in containment zones, as well as paramilitary and police personnel involved in Covid-related activities will be asked to pop HCQ pills.

Until now, only high-risk individuals, including asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in containment and treatment of Covid-19 patients, and asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases, were being administered the drug. They will continue to consume the drug.

While the dosage will remain the same as before, eight weeks, the ICMR advisory suggests that it can be used beyond that period as well, but with close monitoring.

“With available evidence for its safety and beneficial effect as a prophylactic drug against SARS-CoV-2 during the earlier recommended 8 weeks period, the experts further recommended for its use beyond 8 weeks on weekly dosage with strict monitoring of clinical and ECG parameters, which would also ensure that the therapy is given under supervision,” it stated.

“In clinical practice, HCQ is commonly prescribed in a daily dose of 200mg to 400mg for treatment of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus for prolonged treatment periods with good tolerance,” the advisory added.

Discontinue if ‘rare side effects’ are noted

The ICMR had earlier announced that some side effects, such as abdominal pain and nausea, have been observed in healthcare workers who were administered HCQ.

The anti-malaria drug is often blamed for triggering irregular heartbeat.

However, in the final results of the studies (HCQ prophylaxis among 1,323 healthcare workers), the ICMR found mild adverse effects such as nausea in 8.9 per cent workers, abdominal pain in 7.3 per cent, vomiting in 1.5 per cent, low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) in 1.7 per cent and cardio-vascular effects in 1.9 per cent.

The advisory states the drug should be discontinued if it causes the “rare” side effects related to the heart, such as cardiomyopathy, a disease which makes it harder for heart to pump blood to the entire body, and heart-rate disorders.

The advisory mentions that HCQ, in rare cases, can cause visual disturbance, including “blurring of vision, which is usually self-limiting and improves on discontinuation of the drug”.

ICMR has clarified that “for the above cited reasons — heart and vision — the drug has to be given under strict medical supervision with an informed consent”.


Also Read: Ashwagandha the new HCQ? Modi govt begins study to see if herb keeps coronavirus away


 

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43 Comments Share Your Views

43 COMMENTS

  1. What is not mentioned, is the Gates/Soros/Chinese drug Remdecivir, being forced on Americans, instead of HCQ. Gates drug failed at treating Ebola, and is VERY expensive, and has way less success in treating Covid. At the same time, much success has been seen with EARLY treatment with 50+ year old HCQ+Zinc, and antibiotic. It is actually the Zinc that stops virus from reproducing. HCQ allows Zinc to post up in cells, BEFORE virus attacks. I’m not a doctor, but I ain’t blind yet. HCQ is cheap, would be cheaper, had not a major manufacturer in Canada, who had applied for patent on NEW PROCESS FOR CHEAPER, and purer HCQ, was brutally murdered with his wife, at the same time Fauci predicted surprise pandemic. This has been the ONLY THING FAUCI HAS SAID about the pandemic, that turned out to be correct. 2 other scientists working on treating Corona have been murdered. You people need to open your eyes to lies, and accept facts that you don’t like. Follow the money, and criminals trying to stay out of jail.

  2. You guys in India cannot put your faith in 1 questionable study by the ICMR and put all frontline workers on HCQ prophylaxis.There are many more similar studies from all over the world,showing that HCQ is of no benefit as prophylaxis….and these studies are randomised double blind trails. At present we have no Prophylaxis, and no specific treatment for Covid19.
    There is no need to panic. We know that 80% of infected people will cope with the virus adequately and 2% will die.
    Your best bet and Prophylaxis against this virus is YOUR BEHAVIOUR….wearing a mask, sanitizing REGULARLY( apparently 10 x per day), social distancing and good general hygiene

    • Another self-proclaimed “Dr” in this comments section who did not read the ICMR advisory.

      The advisory was not based on “1” study. The article also mentions “the conclusion has been drawn on the basis of three studies conducted by the ICMR.”

      Apart from improving your reading skills, it would be great if you could avoid using a condescending tone when referring to Indians in India (“You guys in India”). You might have moved out of India or may have been born in a different country, but that does not make you superior in any way.

  3. ICMR has made it very clear that HCQ is offered only to frontline medical and other staff dealing with covid patients. This means it is only for people at very high risk for being infected by covid. Also, ICMR has not said that it is a proven preventive medication but that it may be one. ICMR has made it clear that it has adverse reactions involving heart and vision. Hence from a risk to benefit analysis it is to be taken under medical supervision only by the persons specified, not by the population at large.

  4. If is good gained through practical knowlege through observations in preventing coronavirous so let the people know about this drug as soon as possible to reduce the tensions of the people of India as well as other nations of the world.Thank you all the ICMR and the Indian Institute Virology in Pune for conducting through laboratory testing HCQ reduces the viral load.

  5. Vaidyah and Hari Sud’s views are having reason and appreciated.ICMR has to suggest loading dose for covid19 for public use.Asper various opinions of experts,HCQ with Zinc supplement gives best results in reducing viral load if taken initial stage than later stage.

  6. India will have capacity & exalted status to contribute positively towards Global Goals of humanitarian nature … today, tomorrow & the time to come; no matter how serious the issue is.

  7. India will have capacity & exalted status to contribute positively towards Global Goals of humanitarian nature … today, tomorrow & the time to come; no matter how serious the issue is.

  8. It is India’s Destiny – to support for Global, humanitarian solutions … today & tomorrow;n matter how serious the issue is.

  9. The Lancet just put out a study with a large sample size about how people taking HCQ are in fact more likely to die.

  10. Should read the article published in lancet. which is real scientific analysis.people seem to love Mr Trump because .he gave us lot of business to our pharmaceutical companies
    people should. also read what happened in brezil with its use with lot of adverse effects.
    It is cheap talk to criticise and misquote Dr Fauci .He is a great scientist and served at CDC under several presidents. He said it’s use is only anecdotal and was not born out of scientific studies.Inspite of this almost all Americans are taking the drug .I do not blame them.And look at the number of cases and deaths in U S In spite of it.
    Science is science .quackery is not the same as scientific thought .

    • The anecdotal is based on years of experience scientific confusion is created by mercenaries and doctors whose decision making is deliberately blurred

    • Perhaps VR Krishna should improve his reading skills. ICMR advisory is for prophylactic use, whereas the pessimistic studies being cited are in regard to possibility of curative use. Big difference. ICMR isn’t claiming it to be a cure for those who are already infected badly. No cure has been found yet. Such patients will need much more specialized treatment.

      The ICMR advisory:

      https://main.icmr.nic.in/sites/default/files/upload_documents/V5_Revised_advisory_on_the_use_of_HCQ_SARS_CoV2_infection.pdf

    • You’re a bit crazy if you think all Americans are taking this drug we are not, it’s a laughing joke.

      We do have a ilk of hillbillies who might take it, but it’s a low percentage, and frankly darwinism is a good thing, thins the herd of Dunning–Kruger effect people. These people usually don’t have healthcare, like chiropractors, low income, education, and function mentally at the third grade level.

      You do understand we have rich Republicans with big stock portfolios in the pharmaceutical, funeral, cemetery business, industry?

      Yes our locally on funeral industries get bought up by corporations: conglomerate, even the cemeteries, this allows them to control prices, that’s why I can’t even bury the United States will run you between $8,000 to $10,000 US dollars. Same thing is true veterinarian care, it’s not locally own, prices extremely high, Christian Republicans don’t miss a trick.

      This has been going on in the last 20-30 years.

      But I digress off on a tangent, let’s get back to medicine, healthcare, and death in the US.

      With 100,000 US deaths they should be making good money, my estimates are within 2.5 months we’re going to see 160,000 more dead Americans, then an exponential growth to 1.5 million by end of the year of hell and fury, doing exactly what Trump inquired about “ can’t we just let it was over the US?”.

      ($10,000 dollars per burial times 1,500,000 deaths), the money just keeps following to the top 1 percent. They get you with fake proactive preventative medicine, then when you die. There’s a funeral home that had to buy, sight unseen, used old train reefers cars, basically old refrigerator train cars, to house the bodies, until ground funerals could be performed.

      Looks, like global warming, it’s very difficult to convince someone something is bad when you wealth, power, lifestyle, entitlements depends conveniently on you not understanding it. That is the Christian rich republican party, there is no line they won’t “cross”, no pun intended.

      Look with an average one person infects 3 to 4 over a 14 day window you do the math.

      I believe China had a 2.4+ infection rate, 1.4 world average?

      So let’s look at a 2.0 average, sounds good, buy yourself 100 pieces of candy, and you poison two of them, put them in a bag, shake them, now eat a piece.

      I would rather take my chances with the candy vs Dotard Don the Con Corona Trump’s advise.

  11. With utmost respect for Dr.Pani’s expertise, I would like to state that let ICMR come out with the dosage and let the govt make arrangements for availability of HCQ freely till the best alternative is invented. Exceptional situation needs un conventional solution. No time for peer review.The doctors who didn’t took the HCQ must have refused to take part in the study.We can’t blame the ICMR and the study can’t be just ignored.

  12. India makes HCQ in abundance quantity that other nations like US,UK,Germany and others are wanting to buy. Quodos to Indian pharmaceutical companies.

  13. Slap on the face of the International Pharma cartel. Cartel wanted costly & patented medicine to be the ultimate treatment for Covid. Kudos to Trump standing against the cartel and bearing all the trolls by the collies and ignorant. Appreciate ICMR for the thought process and wading off the pressure from corporate goondas. Today’s world the actual medicine and stuff counts 50% & rest on the cross currents due to the Power and Technology supermacy.

  14. 1. No peer review of studies done
    2. There was no surety of doctors included in the study had actilually taken the hydroxychloroquine tablet. The dosing was not supervised. ( many of my friends told they had tablets bt didn’t take it)
    3. There was nothing to associate the blood levels of hydroxychloroquine to events of covid among doctors. There was no blood test at all.
    3. Its just prospective study without any randomisation. Why can’t i say the doctors who took HCQ saved themselves because of their immunity.

  15. This is contradictory statement as per who press conference yesterday. Hcq is not yet proven but can only be taken in strict medical supervision and it can be fatal and cause cardiac abnormalities.

    Please find genuine studies and fight the fake news as per world health organization.

    If it’s proven, kindly provide the source of study and the study link along with.

  16. I suppose doctors already been prescribing hydrochloquine tablets as preventive measure for COVID, need ICMR SIT OVER AND Advise like police entering last in films to arrest villian when Hero had done the job…

  17. “In clinical practice, HCQ is commonly prescribed in a daily dose of 200mg to 400mg for treatment of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus for prolonged treatment periods with good tolerance,”

    India should quickly notify the appropriate dosage at which normal people can take HCQ as a preventative (i.e., prophylactic) against Covid-19, manufacture HCQ tablets in that exact dosage, and make it widely and easily available.

    The normal population is exposed to a lower virus load than those working on the front lines (medical, police, etc.). Hence, the appropriate dosage might be lower for the normal population, for use as a preventative.

    Making it widely and easily available at an appropriate dosage will save many lives, not just as a preventative against Covid-19 but also as a mechanism to reduce the severe anxiety among many people that is leading to widespread mental health problems.

  18. In Dr. Fauci you find a low level of unknown scientist Suddenly thrust into prominence and have been against HCQ. He is one who authored the report at John Hopkins, later withdrawn which forecast 2 million Indians dead. In-spite these fallacies President Trump has kept him as an advisor. Epidimology Is not great science to attract top talent. He is average. He is the one who opposed use of HCQ completely under flimsy test data. In India alone 20 million use HCQ to save themselves from Malaria. There are no listed side affects not more than other drugs. It is Dr. Fauci who spread a bad word about HCQ, in order to give American drugs a chance to succeed. None succeeded as good as HCQ and as cheap as HCQ. Now this is the only cheap drug which gives everybody including President Trump a fighting chance to survive.

    Shame on you Dr. Fauci.

      • Dr Fauci is a well known, reputed doctor and infectious disease specialist whereas Trump is a fool and knows nothing about science or pharmacology. I agree with Dr Sunil that the study conducted by ICMR is flawed in many aspects especially since now there is an article in The Lancet on a study showing higher mortality risk in patients who took HCQ.

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