World Health Organization (WHO) and the latest research in Australia Lancet may have doubted the prophylactic benefits of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in reducing the risk of COVID-19, but the Indian Medical Research Board (ICMR) continues to insist that anti-malaria drugs have the potential to minimize the possibility of contracting the health care worker the novel coronavirus – especially when used in conjunction with personal protection equipment (PPE).
The ICMR study recommends a treatment dose
This conclusion is based on the ICMR case-controlled study, findings which have been published in Indian Medical Research Journal (IJMR). This study tested participants taken at random from the national COVID-19 test data portal managed by ICMR, some of which were positive COVID-19 and others were part of the control group. The participants were given a questionnaire to understand the procedures they carried out as well as the use of PPE and their HCQ consumption.
This study revealed, on the one hand, that health care workers who performed endotracheal intubation had a much higher risk of being infected by SARS-CoV-2 and only consuming HCQ did not reduce this risk. On the other hand, this study found that taking “four or more maintenance doses of HCQ was associated with a significant reduction in the likelihood of being infected.”
This study, therefore, can underscore the fact that a dose-response relationship (where the response depends on the dose) exists between the frequency of taking HCQ and the reduction in the number of infections among health workers. In addition, the findings of this study also indicate that “the use of PPE independently is associated with a reduction in the likelihood of being infected with SARS-CoV-2.”
Takeaways for health workers from this study
Now, the main thing that you can take from this is that continuing consumption of four or more HCQs together with proper PPE use can reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection in the general population as well. However, this is not what the ICMR recommends. The findings of this study are expected to help protect health workers “at the forefront of COVID-19 responses”.
This study clearly shows that HCQ consumption by health workers must begin before the infection is contracted and its recommendations comply with the ongoing dosage recommended by the National Task Force. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Kemenkes), this dose is “400 mg twice daily on Day 1, followed by 400 mg once a week for the next seven weeks” for health workers. Reports indicate that if the dose and use of PPE are adhered to, a reduction in the risk of contracting COVID-19 can be observed from around the fourth week.
So, while WHO will decide whether the suspension of HCQ trials will continue in the next 24 hours, ICMR research shows that the continued use of anti-malaria drugs is still recommended for frontline health workers.
For more information, read our article at Is Hydroxychloroquine really effective against COVID-19?.
The health article on Firstpost was written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and largest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to provide you with information about all matters of health.
Updated Date: Jun 02, 2020 13:37:29 IST
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