The rumor that anti-malarial drug, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is a possible cure for COVID-19 is spread across the world. Despite the absence of proper evidence that proves the drug’s ability to reduce the viral load on patients. Meanwhile, many medical universities have been authorized to use HCQ in treating COVID-19 patients. Further, few are conducting clinical trials to establish evidence of the same.
Hydroxychloroquine – Rumour Without any Affirmation
Even though HCQ has no proof for curing COVID-19, it gained significant attention. Furthermore, several countries are preparing to attempt clinical trials to administer patients with HCQ.
Earlier this month, FDA authorized emergency use of HCQ to treat COVID-19 patients. Following this, the US is hoarding supplies of Hydroxychloroquine and stockpiled nearly 30 million HCQ pills. Nonetheless, aiding this intention is the Indian government following Trump’s retaliation scare. Meanwhile, US President officially is thankful to Prime Minister Modi for allowing the export of drugs amid the crisis.
The Rumour – Hydroxychloroquine
Elon Musk, Trump and the media have a crucial role to play in the broadcast regarding the HCQ. For instance, CEO of Tesla Elon Musk recently tweeted health workers to consider the treatment of patients with chloroquine, a derivative of HCQ. Subsequently, the media spread the word of the drug throughout the world. Eventually, reaching the President of the US, who in turn suggested that the drug could be a game-changer. Further, he emphasizes that there is no harm in trying out the same amidst the pandemic crisis.
These series of events made universities across the world attempt to treat patients with HCQ. Note that, this occurred without any proof of it during the illness.
The Test Generating the Credence the HCQ Cures COVID-19
Méditerrannée Infection University Hospital Institute in Marseille, France conducted a study. In this case, a handful (26) of COVID-19 patients were treated with Hydroxychloroquine. Out of which, 6 had early cessation of treatment. Subsequently, the remaining 20 were divided into a group of three.
The result of the test
The study concluded abruptly saying the following groups were “virologically cured” when compared with each other by
- Group A with Hydroxychloroquine saw 57% cure rate
- Group B with Antibiotic Azithromycin along with Hydroxychloroquine had 100% cure rate
- C Group, a control group (no drug administration) had 12.5% cure rate
Conclusion of the study
The study does not describe what virologically cured meant. Also, no report on the patient’s health status is free from side effects. However, various other tests show a reduction in viral load in severely ill patients. Thereby, making several doctors consider trying testing Hydroxychloroquine, but as of now, there has been no proof of potential cure yet. Hence, it cannot be used as a full-fledged treatment to all COVID-19 patients until clinical trials. As of now HCQ in India is to reduce the load on severely ill COVID patients as an emergency and not as a cure.
Across the world, many medical universities have started clinical trials with HCQ. Also, a combination of HCQ with azithromycin on COVID-19 patients is due course. Tentatively to get sufficient evidence for its usage in treatment for COVID-19.
For instance, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey segregates a group of people into 3 groups similar to the French trail. However, they plan to carry a proper study to determine the effect of the drug on the virus. Accordingly, they will start the trail by enrolling 160 patients and will last for two weeks. Consequently, these results should be able to clear the air and provide certain answers. Like, if Hydroxychloroquine is possibly the cure and if not the data will be useful for doctors to properly aid COVID 19 patients.
Hydroxychloroquine – Significant Pointers
Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-inflammatory drug that acts to suppress the immune system of highly sensitive individuals. Hence, it is used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus that cause inflammation. Additionally, it is also an alternative to treat patients that have malaria and are sensitive to chloroquine. However, HCQ has not been proven effective in suppressing viral illness.
Deadly Side effects
HCQ is feared amongst the medical society for its abnormal side effects that are critical and can easily lead to death.
Sides effects of HCQ being:
- Retinal detachment, leading to blindness (irreversible)
- It is known to have potentially lethal reactions with other drugs hence, the individual is constrained to certain medication only
- It causes low blood sugar
- Severely affects the rhythm of the heartbeat
- Promotes suicidal behavior in patients
- Furthermore, HCQ is not a one-time drug and is administered in minor quantities of 200mg with long intervals between each dosage.
Doctors Concerns on Usage of HCQ
The administration of Hydroxychloroquine to COVID-19 patients is
- Day 1: 400 mg of Hydroxychloroquine twice in a day
- Day 2-5: 200 mg twice daily
The high doses result in making the patients vulnerable to side effects. Thus, the majority of the doctors either refuse or are hesitant to take it considering the side effects.
Even though the risk was high many doctors were subjected to the drug such as Dr. Utpal Barman from Assam who died on duty.
India’s Stand on Usage of HCQ
Amid the chaos, doctors in India aren’t planning to treat their patients with only Hydroxychloroquine but with combination of drugs along with HCQ. Similarly, ICMR has said that healthy people should not use it and or see it as cure for COVID-19 as yet. However, under strict observation ICMR allows following people to use HCQ:
- Healthcare people and doctors who are in direct contact with COVID-19 patients (preventive measure)
- Severely ill COVID-19 patients
Shortage of HCQ to Other Patients
Following the hype on HCQ, the majority medical facilities are stocking up HCQ tablets for COVID 19 patients. However, there are lupus and various other patients that need this drug to suppress the inflammation. Accordingly, this leaves the lumps patient deprived of the necessary drug to subdue the pain. Taking this drug away from lupus patients is equivalent to killing them as the immune system will soon attack organs leading to organ failure and death.
To summarize, the recent chaos has left a significant part of the world is stupefied. Thereby, each nation striving their way to survive the pandemic. In this regard, HCQ for certain nations felt like the light at the end of the tunnel. However, the nations must bear in mind that the decision must not be rushed. Thus, wait for enough proof to continue the Hydroxychloroquine administration for COVID-19 patients.