Covid-19: India Recommends Hydroxychloroquine As Prophylaxis For Healthcare Providers, Patient Family MembersImage Courtesy: ABC

The National Task force for COVID-19, constituted by Indian Council of Medical Research, has recommended the use of hydroxy- chloroquine as prophylaxis (preventive drug) of SARS-COV-2 infection for high risk population.

Chloroquine, or hydroxychloroquine, has been used to treat malaria since 1944. It can be given before exposure to malaria to prevent infection, and it can also be given as treatment afterward.Malaria is a disease that is caused by a parasite, unlike COVID-19. Nevertheless, laboratory studies show chloroquine is effective at preventing as well as treating the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, a close cousin of COVID-19

The advisory provides for placing the following high risk population under chemoprophylaxis with hydroxy chloroquine:

• Asymptomatic Healthcare Workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID

• Asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory confirmed cases

The protocol recommended by the National Task force also has been approved by the Drug Controller General of India for restricted use in emergency situations.

Along with the recommendation, the health ministry also provided a set of guidelines

1) The placing of healthcare workers under chemoprophylaxis should not instill a sense of false security. They should follow all prescribed public health measures such as frequent washing of hands, respiratory etiquettes, keeping a distance of minimum 1m and use of Personal protective equipment (wherever applicable).

2) They should self-monitor their health and report to health authorities immediately in the event of them becoming symptomatic.

3) The high risk contacts of a positive case placed under chemo prophylaxis, should remain in home quarantine while on prophylactic therapy.

4) As recommended by the said Task Force, the drug should only be given on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner. The contraindications mentioned in the recommendations should strictly be followed.

5) Apart from the symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, breathing difficulty), if the person on chemoprophylaxis develops any other symptoms, he should immediately seek medical treatment of the medical practitioner who has prescribed the chemoprophylaxis.

Hydroxy-chloroquine has been found to be effective against coronavirus in laboratory studies and in-vivo studies. Its use in prophylaxis is derived from available evidence of benefit as treatment and supported by pre-clinical data.

The ministry said that recommendation for the use of hydroxy-chloroquine as a prophylactic agent against SARS-CoV-2 infection is based on these considerations, as well as risk-benefit consideration, under exceptional circumstances that call for the protection of high-risk individuals.

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