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'100% Surety That India Has Sufficient HCQ Drug Stock For Now & Future': Health Ministry

India has enough supplies of anti-malarial drug Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to meet the country's demand now as well as in the future, Union Health Ministry said


India has enough supplies of anti-malarial drug Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to meet the country's demand now as well as in the future, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday. In response to a question of a "presumptive" shortfall of HCQ after India relaxed the drug's export to the US and Brazil, the Ministry's joint secretary La Aggarwal said, "It can be taken with 100% surety that HCQ is available to meet India's requirement. We have also analyzed future demand projection to ensure its sufficient."

The official also said that HCQ, which has proved to be an effective tool in the fight against COVID-19 in critical and precautionary cases, should be used only for healthcare workers (HCW) in prescribed quantities as detailed in ICMR guidelines. "The related protocol has to be followed. People facing cardiac issues should not take this as it can be dangerous for them. Therefore, only those belonging to that particular category (HCW) should use HCQ."

India lifts Hydroxychloroquine ban

On March 25, India banned the export of hydroxychloroquine in the midst of views in some quarters that the drug could be used to fight COVID-19. India is the largest exporter of the drug. The ban was partially lifted on Tuesday after US President Donald Trump and Brazil's Jair Bolsanaro requested the supply of HCQ to battle rising COVID-19 cases there.

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Rationally use PPEs, procurement stepped up

The Health Ministry also gave a summary of the stock of PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) and called for greater rationalisation of the use of such gear. 

"Supplies of PPEs, masks, and ventilators have now begun. 20 domestic manufacturers in India have been developed for manufacturing PPEs, orders for 1.7 Crore PPEs have been placed and the supplies have begun. 49,000 ventilators have been ordered," Lav Aggarwal informed.

The official said that although there was an initial shortage of PPEs which include N95 masks, gloves, gown or coverall, head covers, etc., but the manufacturing and procurement have been scaled up. However, he said that there is a need to have rational use of such equipment.

"Rationalisation of PPEs is required. At field level, PPEs are used as per risk profile basis. High-risk places use all components, moderate requires only mask and gloves," Aggarwal said, adding, "PPEs are being supplied in sufficient quantity to the States by the Center but things like masks should be used rationally."

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Coronavirus count goes up

The Health Ministry also informed that 540 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the last 24 hours taking the total number to 5,734. The death toll has also mounted to 166 after 17 patients succumbed to the disease since Wednesday. So far, 473 patients have recovered and been discharged from the hospital.

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