AIIMS studying effects of HCQ on Covid-19 patients as deaths near 500 mark

Topics Coronavirus | AIIMS

The total confirmed cases of Covid-19 in India reached 14,378 on Saturday, including 26 naval personnel serving at the Western Naval Command in Mumbai
The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is conducting a study on Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as a therapeutic and prophylactic drug on Covid-19, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has said, even as it awaits the trial results of the American drug Remdesivir on the pandemic. 

The total confirmed cases of Covid-19 in India reached 14,378  on Saturday, including 26 naval personnel serving at the Western Naval Command in Mumbai. Most of the cases are reported to be asymptomatic and have been traced to a single sailor who tested positive on April 7. 

Following this, the navy has started a contact tracing operation to track the people who may have come in contact with the sailors. 

While a vaccine looks like a distant goal, India is looking into the effects of HCQ on patients and healthcare workers. “The HCQ study is an observational and covert one... since we cannot have an evidence base for a trial right now,” said Raman R Gangakhedkar, head scientist, ICMR. 

Around 480 patients will be observed over eight weeks to understand the effect of HCQ. A group of health workers who also took the medicine as a precautionary measure are also being monitored as part of another study to find out the side effects of the drug. 

India had banned the exports of HCQ, a malaria drug but later agreed to supply it to the US on President Donald Trump’s demand and some other countries. 

The most common side effect of the drug was abdominal pain reported by 10 per cent of the health workers and nausea among six per cent. 

US based biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences is testing its drug Remdesivir which affects the reproduction rate of the virus on 5,500 patients. “If the drug is found to be effective then in a pandemic situation it will have to go into patent pooling in which they can be paid royalty for generic manufacturing. India is part of this solidarity trial,” Gangakhedkar said. 

Covid has caused close to 500 deaths in India so far, 75 per cent of which are among older people with comorbidities, health ministry data showed. Around 14.4 per cent deaths were seen among those in the age group 0-45 years and 10 per cent in the 45-60 years age bracket. 

Of the total cases, 4,291 are related to the Tablighi Jamaat gathering at Nizamuddin’s Markaz mosque in New Delhi.

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