COVID-19: Should we really bet on hydroxychloroquine

British Medical Journal has questioned the logic of using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 14 April 2020


Around two million people have been infected in the novel coronavirus disease pandemic (COVID-19) globally. The medical fraternity is in a rush to find a cure or an effective treatment against the deadly disease caused by the SARS CoV-2 virus.

Hydroxychloroquine has been much talked about recently in this regard. This antimalarial drug is being advocated by many, including United States President Donald Trump, as an effective tool to control the pandemic.

The haste has caused a shortage of the medicine. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) too has advocated its use to in treating COVID-19 patients.

But the British Medical Journal has questioned the logic of using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients, especially without any clinical trials to validate the antimalarial drug’s efficacy against the disease.

An editorial of the weekly peer-reviewed journal pointed out that many laboratory had earlier shown promise but failed clinical trials.

It summarises the shortcomings of various pre-print studies, which claim that the drug can be used in COVID-19 treatment. The shortcomings include the small number of test subjects used in the studies.

Clinical trials are crucial. A drug previously approved to treat a particular disease needs due clinical before being used to treat a new disease.

Repurposing medicines in haste may lead to adverse side effects. In this case, they may include liver-failure, erratic heartbeat and problems related to the skin.

Adverse reactions from hydroxychloroquine has been suspected to cause the death of an Indian doctor treating COVID-19 patients.

On April 14, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged young Indian scientists to step up and devise a way to rein in the pandemic. A cure, though, still can take months, if not years, as past experience has shown.

There has been no effective vaccine against the original SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrom) virus yet.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :
Related Stories

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.