New Delhi: Amid a raging debate over effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine
in prevention and treatment of novel coronavirus infection, the India government
has included new categories to whom it recommended the use of the drug as a
The drug can be administered to all asymptomatic healthcare
workers working in non-Covid-19 hospitals and also to asymptomatic frontline
workers deployed in containment zones and paramilitary/ police personnel
involved in Covid-19 related activities, a revised advisory issued by the ICMR
(Indian Council of Medical Research) said.
It had previously recommended the drug to asymptomatic
Healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed Covid-19 case
and to asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory confirmed cases.
The recommendation was made after the Joint Monitoring Group
under the Chairmanship of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and
including representatives from AIIMS, ICMR, National Centre for Disease
Control, National Disaster Management Authority, WHO and experts drawn from
central government hospitals reviewed the prophylactic use of
“At NIV, Pune, the report of the in-vitro testing of HCQ for
antiviral efficacy showed reduction of infectivity and log reduction in viral
RNA copy of SARs-CoV2,” the new advisory read. Rarely the drug causes
cardiovascular side effects such as cardiomyopathy and rhythm (heart rate)
disorders, it said.
However, the drug is contraindicated in persons with known
case of retinopathy, hypersensitivity to HCQ and cardiac rhythm disorders. It is
also not recommended for prophylaxis in children under 15 years of age and in
pregnancy and lactation, the advisory said.
The guidelines cautioned the intake of the medicine should
not instill a false security sense.
Hydroxychloroquine is originally used to prevent Malaria and treat other autoimmune conditions. A debate is still on over its effectiveness against Covid-19 and possible side-effects. The US government too has allowed its use against the novel coronavirus infection.