The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has okayed the use of anti-malaria drug Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) saying that the vaccine minimises the probability of getting infected with coronavirus. ICMR in its revised guidelines issued on Friday recommended the use of the anti-malaria drug as a preventive treatment against COVID-19 for asymptomatic healthcare workers in non-COVID hospitals, frontline personnel deployed in containment zones, and paramilitary/police officials involved in coronavirus infection-related activities.
The guidelines have been revised after March 23, when the ICMR suggested the use of HCQ as prophylaxis on healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients and are likely to get the virus. However, it attracted criticism for not being backed by scientific evidence if the drug works against the infection.
The revised advisory issued by the ICMR, however, cautioned that the intake of the medicine should not instill a sense of false security. The recommendation was made after the Joint Monitoring Group under the Chairmanship of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and including representatives from AIIMS, ICMR, National Centre for Disease Control, National Disaster Management Authority, WHO and experts drawn from central government hospitals reviewed the prophylactic use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in the context of expanding it to healthcare and other frontline workers deployed in non-COVID-19 and COVID-19 areas.
Three new categories, all asymptomatic healthcare workers working in non-COVID hospitals/areas of COVID hospitals/blocks, asymptomatic frontline workers such as surveillance workers deployed in containment zones and paramilitary/police personnel involved in COVID-19 related activities, have now been included.
Premier medical journal Lancet has found that those getting treated with HCQ and chloroquine are at a higher risk of death and erratic heart rhythms. Lancet had said it in an observational study it conducted on 14,888 COVID-19 patients in recent months.