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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

So, What is Hydroxychloroquine, After All?

India has extended its guidelines for the use of hydroxychloroquine, New questions are being raised everyday about its efficacy against Wuhan virus, and there is Trump who continues to push for it.

Let’s have a look at all sides of this continuing debate

What Is Hydroxychloroquine?

HCQ is a drug generally used to cure autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and lupus. It is most often used for malaria prevention. The anti-malaria medicine chloroquine developed it.

Hydroxychloroquine is only used only in just a few places in the world. Few countries, including the USA, France, Russia etc, which allowed HCQ to be used for Covid-19 with restrictions.

Why Is It In The Spotlight?

President Trump instigated the idea that HCQ is working against Covid-19.

The combination of hydroxychloroquine & azithromycin can create history in medicine, said Trump recently.

The HCQ is said to help people protect and cure themselves from the novel coronavirus.

The Efficacy Of HCQ

Researchers are unable to confirm benefits of hydroxychloroquine, when used separately or with azithromycin, on various patients infected with COVID-19.

These drug treatments are linked to reduced survival in hospitals and an increased incidence of abnormal heartbeat in the treatment of COVID-19.

                     Caption: 200mg strips of hydroxychloroquine tablets

                     Credits: Publicdomainpictures

          Alt tags: Tablet strips

Macrolides is a type of antibiotic that includes azithromycin.

Studies have shown that 27 cases have been treated and a major decline in viral movement has been shown by French scientists. Azithromycin is much effective to eliminate the virus with the addition of hydroxychloroquine. The mixture reduced the viral load in general.

Basically, the combination did reduce the viral load. Although the size of the study was too small for any conclusion to be considered definitive.

HCQ’s side effects include heart rate changes, stomach disorders, dizziness and hallucinations. The WHO said the side effects are well known, despite the fact that there is no proper proof of how effective HCQ is in the Covid-19 treatment.

The Status Of Trials

The scandal on trials is understandable in an environment where uninformed people demand answers when there are none.

Clinical trial

                    Caption: Woman testing hydroxychloroquine at a lab

       Alt tags: Clinical trial

There currently exist 215 trials involving COVID-19 and hydroxychloroquine.

These trials study the use of hydroxychloroquine on different stages of COVID-19, as well as in combination with other drugs.

The UK is presently conducting a large clinical trial which is seeking to find drugs that are effective for treating COVID-19.

In this, a range of treatments are being evaluated, including hydroxychloroquine.

Chief Investigators of a recovery trial announced that there was no clear clinical benefit for hospitalized patients treated with hydroxychloroquine.

It’s a real trial. Involving 11,000 patients in 175 hospitals in UK.

The hydroxychloroquine aspect of the trial involved COVID-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine in comparison with COVID-19 patients being treated with standard care.

Mortality between those treated using hydroxychloroquine and controls was no different.

Neither were there beneficial effects on hospital stay duration or other outcomes.

India’s Position

  1. Recently, in India, non-health line workers were also granted permission for the consumption of Hydroxychloroquine.

  2. The drug must be avoided in people with retinopathy, hypersensitivity, cardiac problems, or glucose and phosphate deficiencies.

  3. Pregnant women or lactating mothers with young children must not consume these tablets.

  4. Also, the use of this drug must be preceded by an ECG.

  5. There is a recommendation for use of azithromycin in severe Covid-19 patients.

  6. However, its use must be limited to certain serious cases until further tests and studies are proven.


When doctors have patients who are deteriorating and there is no solution, drugs like these get used off label, before their effectiveness is established.

If the drug works, it is sure to grab a lot of attention.

While the world is desperately waiting for effective vaccines and treatments to cure this virus, we are left with nothing, but to listen to experts, maintain social distancing, self-isolation and testing.

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