Amid increasing cases of coronavirus outbreak in India which has claimed 8 lives and over 400 confirmed cases till today, the National Task Force COVID-19 constituted by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Monday recommended the use of hydroxy-chloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19 for high-risk cases.
In an advisory issued by the department, asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, and asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases have been advised to be placed under chemoprophylaxis with hydroxychloroquine.
“Hydroxychloroquine is recommended only for a healthcare worker who is treating a #COVID patient. Secondly, it’s recommended only for persons staying and caring for a household positive patient. They can take that only for prophylaxis, only for prevention,” said ICMR Director-General Balram Bhargava.
The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has also approved the protocol recommended by the ICMR National Task Force for restricted use in an emergency situation.
The key considerations to administer the medication are:
- The drug has to be given only on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner.
- If anyone becomes symptomatic while on prophylaxis, he or she should immediately contact the health facility, get tested as per national guidelines and follow the standard treatment protocol.
- The intake of hydroxychloroquine should be coupled with a proper lookout for adverse drug reactions through self-reporting using the Pharmacovigilance Program of India app or helpline.
- The asymptomatic contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases should maintain home quarantine as per the guidelines even if they are taking hydroxychloroquine.
- The drug is not recommended for prophylaxis in children under 15 years of age.
- It is contraindicated in persons with a known case of retinopathy, known hypersensitivity to hydroxychloroquine and 4-aminoquinoline compounds.
As for the dosage it has been recommended that the asymptomatic healthcare workers who have been involved in the care of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases can be given 400mg of hydroxychloroquine twice a day on Day 1 and then 400mg once in a week for the next seven weeks. The drug has to be taken with meals.
The task force also warned the health workers that placing them under chemoprophylaxis should not instil a sense of false security in them and asked the health-workers to follow all prescribed public health measures such as frequent washing of hands, respiratory etiquettes, keeping a safe distance of minimum 1 metre and use of personal protective equipment.
Bhargava also announced that the process of Covid-19 test kit manufacturing has been fast-tracked at ICMR-NIV Pune and two manufacturers are already approved.
The ICMR director furthered that he would like to clarify that FDA/CE approval isn’t mandatory. ICMR-NIV approved tests which will be done there on a fast-track basis will also be acceptable for COVID-19 testing, ANI reported.