Home / News / India /  Covid treatment: HCQ shows some promise, finds Telangana government report

An interim report prepared by the Telangana government has yielded promising results on the efficacy of prophylactic use of Hydroxychloroquine or HCQ, as it is popularly known, on preventing COVID-19 in frontline medical workers in the state.

Over 70 per cent of healthcare workers in the Telangana Government study who were administered the malarial drug on a trial basis to prevent against Covid-19 infection reported no onset of symptoms that were linked to the SARS-Cov-2 (Covid-19) viral infection. 394 (73.9 percent) healthcare workers who could potentially have contact with Covid-19 patients remained asymptomatic after ingesting HCQ and appeared to display strong immune responses to the Coronavirus.

In addition to this, 71% out of these 394 frontline health care workers on HCQ were tested for COVID-19 at different intervals and all tested negative.

A sample set of 694 Health care workers were selected for the randomised Telangana government study conducted by Dr. Vimala Thomas, head of Community Medicine at Gandhi Medical College in Secunderabad, Telangana. The study had two objectives - the efficacy of HCQ on a percentage of this sample set and the ability of Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) to block the virus from infecting frontline healthcare workers.

In the study of Hydroxychloroquine as prophylaxis on Health Care Workers, 533 out of the original study sample of 694 were administered the drug and studied for 7 weeks of consistent usage of HCQ after the initial loading dose. However, there were cases where some doctors and nurses in this sample set skipped on their doses either due to the onset of side effects of HCQ (Giddiness, Nausea, Headache, Gastritis) or that they simply forgot to take the required dosage at the right time. 93 out of the 533 frontline medical workers selected for the HCQ trials reported these inconsistencies.

"Among the 533 HCWs who have taken HCQ prophylaxis, 394 (73.9 per cent) have had contact with a positive case (involved in treatment) and all were using the recommended personal protective gear whenever they were in contact with any suspect or confirmed case. None of the HCWs have reported any specific Covid19 symptoms like fever, sore throat and cough," stated the report.

The study elaborated further on the randomised testing of the frontline workers on HCQ stating that "Among the 394 HCWs who were involved in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, 73 who were tested randomly (71 in hospital and 2 in field), none of them tested COVID positive. Majority of them were on HCQ prophylaxis on a regular basis and all of them were on prophylaxis but missed one dose and continued subsequently."

The Telangana report stressed in its conclusion that this report should still be considered as an interim report and no definitive conclusions should be drawn from it since there were instances where the full course of HCQ was not completed in some of the frontline health care workers. "Once the complete dosage period of prophylaxis is over, a subset of the HCWs (Health Care Workers) will be tested for their COVID19 status to determine the effectiveness of HCQ prophylaxis," stated the report.

Hydroxychloroquine or HCQ as it is commonly called is an anti-malarial drug that is also used to treat other autoimmune diseases. It shot to prominence recently after receiving an endorsement from the President of the United States Donald Trump as a potential cure to the Coronavirus. On Monday President Trump stated that he too had begun taking it prophylactically and seemed to not exhibit any symptoms.

Recently, the Indian government exported millions of HCQ tablets to 87 countries after the demand for the drug shot up as a potential cure to the Coronavirus, however, its efficacy is not yet definitive. President Trump, among other world leaders, thanked Prime Minister Modi for lifting restrictions on HCQ's export and for helping other countries in their time of need.

Speaking to reporters on Monday on HCQ, Trump appeared to double down on his claims on the anti-malarial drug's efficacy, "Yeah, I've taken it for 1 and half weeks. And I'm still here. I'm still here," said US President Donald Trump.

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