? Hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19 ?
?Can hydroxychloroquine protect you against COVID-19?
At present, there is no vaccine or medicine proven to be 100% effective against COVID-19 and studies in this regard are very limited.
Hence, it is disastrous to self medicate taking into consideration the possible side effects and risks involved.
Infectious diseases have always had a more significant impact on the soldiers than their injuries, and malaria was one such disease. Quinine was one of the miracle antimalarial medicines which saved many soldiers in the battle field. Later many derivatives of quinine like chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine were introduced for the treatment and prophylaxis of malaria.
?What is Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) ?
Hydroxychloroquine is a derivative of chloroquine which is widely used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosis in addition to malaria. It was first synthesized in 1946 and was demonstrated to be much less toxic than chloroquine.
?COVID-19 and HCQ
Hydroxychloroquine was found to be effective against COVID-19 virus in laboratory and in vitro studies (colloquially called the test tube experiments). In addition to its direct antiviral activity, HCQ is a anti-inflammatory agent which probably helps in attenuating the inflammatory response as well.
A study in China reported that COVID-19 patients treated with HCQ had clinical and virologic benefit than a comparison group who didn’t receive the medicine. A combination of HCQ and azithromycin was reported to be more effective.
Based upon limited in-vitro and anecdotal data, chloroquine or HCQ are currently recommended for treatment of COVID-19 patients in several countries.
At this point of time, when there is no medicine / vaccine proven to be 100% effective against the virus, the National Task force for COVID-19 constituted by Indian council of medical reserach (ICMR) has recommended restricted use of HCQ in emergency situations.
Based on this, Kerala government has included the medicine in the prevention and treatment of COVID -19; however, more evidence is expected in near future.
?HCQ in prevention of COVID19
?Who all can take the medicine as prevention ?
It is recommended only for two groups of people
☑️Asymptomatic health care workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19
☑️Asymptomatic house hold contacts of laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19
?Who all should NOT be given this medicine as prevention ?
❎️Children below 15 years of age
❎️ Persons with retinopathy
❎️Allergy to hydroxychloroquine or related medicines
?Nausea, vomiting, gastric discomfort
?Defects in the conduction system and rhythm of heart beat.
?The medicine should be taken only on advice of a doctor.
?The medicine has to be dispensed only on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner.
?The persons on HCQ need to continue practising all other preventive measures including personal hygiene. They should remain in home quarantine for the specific period even if they have taken the medicine.
?They should report to the health authorities immediately in the event of them becoming symptomatic, get tested and treated as per recommendations.
?The prophylaxis is recommended for a total period of 8 weeks in health care workers and 4 weeks for house hold contacts.
Prolonged use and overdosage can lead to poisoning.
?It should be taken with caution in those with cardiac diseases and neurological diseases like seizures.
?HCQ is known to interact with other drugs, hence has to be given with caution in persons already on other drugs.
?HCQ use against COVID-19 is in its infancy.
?Avoid self medication.
?The intake of the medicine may instill a sense of false security which may be disastrous if you trivialise the importance of other preventive measures.
?Physical distancing, frequent hand washing, respiratory etiquettes are still the most powerful weapons in our armamentarium in this battle against COVID-19.
Utilise them to the maximum and we shall win for sure….!!!