Amid rising coronavirus cases in the country, the national task force for COVID-19 constituted by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended hydroxy-chloroquine as a preventive medication for a high-risk population.
The ICMR further said that the hydroxy-chloroquine must be used by healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases and the asymptomatic household contacts of lab-confirmed cases. The protocol recommended by the National Task Force has been approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) for restricted use in emergency situations.
The health ministry has informed the states to order the superintendents of police and district magistrates to enforce the lockdown strictly. The ICMR has also allowed twelve private lab chains with 15,000 collection centres nationwide to conduct the coronavirus tests. The 12 private-lab chains have been registered and have started working after being allowed the testing. These 12 labs have 15,000 collection centres.
In an exclusive interview with Republic Media Network, Dr. Hemant Thakkar, a notable practicing physician in Mumbai, busted the myth around the use of hydroxychloroquine, which is said to be an anti-malarial drug for the prevention of COVID-19 for a high-risk population. On the debate with Republic Media Network's editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami on Monday, Dr. Thakkar clarified that hydroxychloroquine is not an anti-malarial drug. "Hydroxy Chloroquine is not used in routine clinical practice for malaria," stated Dr. Thakkar on the debate.
Highlighting the recommendation of hydroxychloroquine by the Indian Council of Medical Research for the prevention of COVID-19 for high-risk populations, Dr. Thakkar said that hydroxychloroquine is a derivative of chloroquine, adding that in 2014, India was the only country to approve the use of hydroxychloroquine as an anti-diabetic drug. Dr. Thakkar also stated that hydroxychloroquine has lesser side-effects than chloroquine but it still has certain cardiac side-effects and hence, it cannot be just popped like candy.
On Monday, the West Bengal government issued an order on the sales of certain drugs due to the scarcity of those drugs in the market. The order mentioned that the medical facilities must follow certain guidelines under the Drug and Cosmetics Act in order to cell the medicines.
(with PTI inputs)