“Weeks after the malaria drug was recommended, we got some data on hydroxychloroquine which showed that there is no harm, but benefits may be there,” ICMR Director General Dr. Bhargava said.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) has suspended testing of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients due to safety concerns, ICMR said that India will continue to use it as a preventive measure among frontline healthcare workers.
Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Dr Balram Bhargava, said that hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) was recommended based on in-vitro studies which showed it had antiviral properties, News18 reported.
Bhargava also said that observational studies and case-control studies have not shown many side effects of HCQ. ICMR had first recommended the use of the anti-malarial drug in March and expanded its use last week.
"We thought it might be a useful drug for the prevention of COVID-19. Taking the in-vitro data and the availability and safety of this drug, we recommended the usage of HCQ under strict medical supervision,” Bhargava added.
“Weeks after the malaria drug was recommended, we got some data on hydroxychloroquine which showed that there is no harm, but benefits may be there,” Bhargava said.
“Several observational studies in different cohorts were done at AIIMS, case-control study at ICMR and studies were done at three Delhi public hospitals. These studies revealed that the drug may be working and there were no major side effects, excluding nausea, vomiting and some palpitations occasionally. We suggest that it should be used for prophylaxis,” the ICMR DG said.
He further said that the centre's advisory regarding expanding the use of HCQ to frontline workers, including paramilitary and police personnel, is based on a risk-benefit analysis. “Our study on HCQ will be published soon,” Bhargava said.
WHO Director General Tedros on Monday said, "The executive group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity trial while the safety data is reviewed by the data safety monitoring board."Follow Moneycontrol's full coverage on the coronavirus pandemic here