Health

COVID-19: Why ICMR okayed hydroxychloroquine as preventive med

Hydroxychloroquine has been found to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 in laboratory studies

 
Last Updated: Wednesday 25 March 2020

The absence of a cure for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) paves the way for preventive medication to take the lead in trying to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) among those who have a high risk of becoming infected by the virus.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), in this context, issued an advisory on March 22, 2020 for the use of the hydroxychloroquine drug in a bid to prevent infection from the SARS-CoV-2.

The Drug Controller General of India approved the procedure, adding that it could be used under exceptional circumstances that call for the protection of high-risk individuals.

Hydroxychloroquine was found to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 in laboratory studies and in in-vivo studies (tests or experiments conducted on living organisms).

The available evidence of hydroxychloroquine being beneficial as a treatment was supported by preclinical data. This makes it an effective drug to be used in preventive healthcare measures.

There are two types of high-risk individuals who can be administered the drug:

  • Asymptomatic healthcare workers involved with suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 cases
  • Asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases

The ICMR advisory also specified doses to be given while treating high-risk individuals.

Asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of the virus should be administered 400 mg twice on the first day, followed by 400 mg once per week for the next seven weeks.

Asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases should be given 400 mg twice on the first day, followed by 400 mg once per week for the next 3 weeks.

In both cases, the medicine should be taken with meals.

All asymptomatic contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases should remain in home quarantine even if they are on this medication, according to the national guidelines.

The drug is not recommended for prevention in children under 15 and on those with cases of retinopathy and known hypersensitivity to hydroxychloroquine.

It has to be administered only on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner.

It should be noted that hydroxychloroquine is a preventive medication and not a cure for the virus. Those who are administered this medication must continue all other prescribed measures.

If anyone becomes symptomatic while on this preventive medication, she should immediately contact the health facility, get tested according to national guidelines and follow standard treatment protocol.

Subscribe to Weekly 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.