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US President Donald Trump recently revealed in a media briefing that he is taking malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as a preventive measure against COVID-19 infection that has affected over 5 million people all over the world. He started taking this controversial medicine after his valet and vice president Mike Pence's secretary tested positive for the infection.
Trump and many scientists all over the world have touted hydroxychloroquine as a potential COVID-19 cure. India's Union Health Ministry has also recommended that severe COVID-19 patients in ICU be treated with hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin together. The later is a type of antibiotic. In fact, HCQ is also part of the four treatment protocols being evaluated in the WHO's Solidarity Trial. The other three combinations include Remdesivir, a combination of Lopinavir and Ritonavir and a combined formulation of Lopinavir, Ritonavir and Interferon beta-1a.
Apart from this, hydroxychloroquine will soon be evaluated by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) as a preventive drug against COVID-19 infection. Five hospitals have enrolled so far with ICMR for this observational study, which will be conducted among frontline health workers taking care of COVID-19 patients. PTI has quoted Dr. Suman Kanungo, the ICMR scientist conducting the study, saying, "Any adverse event following the intake of the drug will be noted and analysed in this structured study. There is a plan to enrol 1500 healthcare workers in the study. All those participating in the study would undergo COVID-19 test before they are being enrolled and every two weeks henceforth." Notably, a recent study published in the British Medical Journal mentioned that hydroxychloroquine failed in two separate randomised control trials carried out in China and France.
As already mentioned, HCQ is a drug used to treat malaria. However, doctors prescribe this medicine to people with autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. In case of malaria, this drug works by killing the pathogen that causes the disease. However, some strains of malaria are resistant to HCQ. As far as COVID-19 is concerned, many studies are showing that this drug has little or no positive impact. In fact, some clinical trials observe that the mortality rate was higher among COVID-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine than those who weren't administered this drug. While HCQ is a boon for malaria patients, the risk factors that it comes with outweigh the unproven benefits for people with COVID-19. Here are the side effects of this drug.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), COVID-19 patients with cardiac and renal issues are more vulnerable to irregular heartbeat. This can be dangerous.
This is another cardiac condition that COVID-19 patients can develop if treated with HCQ, warns the FDA. It occurs when there are abnormal electrical signals in the lower chambers of the heart.
Though rare, it can be a long-term effect of using high doses of hydroxychloroquine. The condition caused by it known as retinopathy, damage to the retina of your eyes.
One may experience other less severe impacts too after taking HCQ. These include headache, dizziness, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, stomach ache, etc.
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