Who should use HCQ ? :Covid-19
With more than 4.7 million cases globally and almost 3 lakhs fatalities, COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the globe and the flattening of the curve is yet to be seen. Scientists and medical experts are racing against the time to develop a potential vaccine to contain the novel coronavirus and as of now, there are more than 100 vaccine candidates in different phases of development. Almost 7 or 8 of them have reached the clinical trial phase where they will be tested for their efficacy and safety on humans.
The hunt for a cure
With more than 4.7 million cases globally and 3 lakhs fatalities, COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the globe and the flattening of the curve is yet to be seen. Scientists and medical experts are racing against the time to develop a potential vaccine to contain the novel coronavirus and as of now, there are more than 100 vaccine candidates in different phases of development. Almost 7 or 8 of them have reached the clinical trial phase where they will be tested for their efficacy and safety on humans.
However, with no definitive cure in sight (atleast in the near future), people are scrambling for different measures to kickstart their immunity for this battle against COVID-19. Even the heavily impacted countries are trying to figure out a way to live with this new normalcy in between social distancing and lockdown.
The importance of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in the battle against COVID-19
Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) has become quite the buzz word in the times of COVID-19 and is being touted as one of the most promising drugs in the treatment of novel coronavirus. HCQ is primarily used as an anti-malarial drug in India and is taken as an oral tablet. This antiviral drug is also used to treat autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and made its way to the limelight after the US President Donald Trump begin backing it is a potential treatment for COVID-19 disease.
Who should use Hydroxychloroquine
Dr Ashwini Chopra, who is a renowned Gastroenterologist practising in Aashlok Hospital, shed more light on the efficacy and usage of HCQ in a webinar on, “How to Boost the Immune System during COVID-19 Outbreak”. When probed whether or not Hydroxychloroquine remained an effective line of treatment for the treatment of novel coronavirus, Dr Ashwini said that it can be definitely used by the front line workers and those who have come in contact with an infected person.
Speaking about the antiviral drug, he stressed that HCQ can be used as a preventive measure by front line workers including doctors and nurses (and anyone who has been exposed to a novel coronavirus patient). It should be taken as one dose per week for three weeks as a preventive measure.
Also read: Remdesivir vs Favipiravir drugs for Covid-19
What do the studies say
It is important to note that preliminary reports from China found out that HCQ enabled the recovery of COVID-19 patients by shortening the duration of cold, cough, and fever.
It was found that HCQ could significantly shorten TTCR (Time To Clinical Recovery) and promote the absorption of pneumonia. While the antiviral drug did show a promise of improvement in patients with moderate sickness, a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), underlined that it did not work for critically ill patients.
Findings of the study
However, the jury is still out on the efficacy of this anti-inflammatory drug as a study conducted by researchers in France pointed to the fact that HCQ did not significantly reduce deaths or admission of COVOD-19 patients in the intensive care unit.
Out of the 181 adults admitted in the hospital due to COVID-19 induced pneumonia, 84 patients where given HCQ withing 48 hours of admission. The study did not find any remarkable difference in the two groups when it came to needing intensive care, developing acute respiratory distress or even fatality.
The side-effects of HCQ
There is a reason that medical experts around the world are warning against the improper usage of HCQ–it has a myriad of side-effects that come with prolonged usage without any supervision. In addition to headache, dizziness and stomach cramps, some of the other serious side-effects of this antiviral drug include:
1. Heart rhythm problems
2. Blurred vision or vision changes
3. Muscle weakness
4. Mental health effects
5. Rapid swelling of the skin
6. Heart disease/heart failure
7. Ringing in ears
It is especially crucial that one does not take HCQ with drugs that cause irregularities of heart rate or rhythm. This is why it is strongly advised to consult your doctor first before using HCQ to treat COVID-19 disease or its symptoms.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The Health Master does not claim responsibility for this information.