Experts are divided on India’s ‘wonder drug’ that could cure Coronavirus

India banned the export of the ‘wonder drug’ Hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that is used to treat Coronavirus.

"Hydroxy-chloroquine is found to be effective against Coronavirus in laboratory studies and in-vivo studies. Its use in prophylaxis is derived from the available evidence of benefit as treatment and supported by preclinical data," IANS reported citing the advisory by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

But scientists and experts are still uncertain of its impact in controlling Coronavirus in particular, though it is effective against viral infections in general.

‘No clinical evidence that it works’

David Sullivan, professor of microbiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and an infectious disease physician believes that if the drug genuinely worked for Coronavirus infection, the healthcare professionals would know it by now.

“Right now we have no clinical evidence that it works,” he said.

However, the only evidence that clinicians currently have says that it is safe and effective in treating viral infections. Clinical trials can help extract critical information on its use and dosage, said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

This was after the US President Donald Trump called the combination of the two drugs — antibiotic azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine — a ‘game changer’ for treating Coronavirus.

‘Avoid self medication using Hydroxychloroquine’

In fact, given the panic and anxiety around the community spread, people with even slightest of symptoms have started to self medicate.

Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) scientist Raman Gangakhedkar warned against using the drug without a prescription and merely on the basis of suspicion.

"Do not go for the COVID-19 test just on suspicion or consume hydroxychloroquine without a doctor's prescription because the medicine has its side effects. Observe social distancing even at home with your family members,” he told IANS.

The drug is strictly prohibited for those below 15 years and above 60 years due to possible side-effects on kidney and heart.

What is the excitement over Hydroxychloroquine?

The excitement began when a French study on the novel Coronavirus surfaced. An examination of the infected patients showed that the level of virus in blood dropped after medication.

Another study reiterated the same results. Approximately 100 patients were tested in China, where the disease first started, and the combination of the two drugs — antibiotic azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine — was found to reduce viral infection.

However, as far as the lab studies of Hydroxychloroquine are concerned, the researchers found that it could stop viruses like influenza and SARS-CoV-2 from infecting human cells. But, there is still a lag.

“The problem is that what happens in the lab often doesn’t predict what happens in a patient,” Dr Otto Yang of the University of California, Los Angeles told the TIME. In the meanwhile, Indian government is also working on using the blood of recovered patients to treat others.

See also:
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