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What is Hydroxychloroquine? The Drug That USA Desperately Need

US President Donald Trump earlier warned India that the USA might retaliate if India did not export anti-malarial drug Hydroxychloroquine despite his personal request, stating that he would be surprised in case of a negative outcome since India have good relations with the United States. India has now partially eased restrictions on the export of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol, reported by some as key to the fight against the coronavirus, to fulfil existing orders and to meet the needs of neighbouring countries. The comments made by US President’s, at the press briefing on Monday, haven’t gone down well with many in India, with critics pointing out that there was no need for such comments when India has already agreed to help. Notably, India is the largest producer of Hydroxychloroquine in the world.

What is Hydroxychloroquine?

Hydroxychloroquine is a drug that is used to treat malaria. It was invented during World War II. It is also prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis. According to studies, the anti-malarial medication has been shown to improve symptoms such as muscle and joint pain, skin rashes, inflammation of the heart and lung linings, fatigue, and fever.  The drug is seen as a viable therapeutic solution by President Trump to coronavirus that has so far killed nearly 11,000 people in the USA and infected over 3.6 lakh within weeks.

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Is It Effective Against Coronavirus?

The administration under President Trump has created a national strategic stockpile of around 29 million doses of the malaria drug, anticipating that its test results on more than 1,500 COVID-19 patients in New York is yielding positive results. In France, 40 coronavirus patients were given hydroxychloroquine and more than half of them experienced the clearing of their airways within three to six days. The study suggested that the anti-malarial drug can slow infections from Sars-CoV-2 (the virus behind Covid-19) by blocking it from entering cells in the body.

In a recent research from China has shown that patients who were treated with the drugs fought off coronavirus no more quickly than those who didn’t get it. One patient was given hydroxychloroquine and it severely worsened the condition while four patients on the medicine developed signs of liver damage and experienced diarrhea.

Is It Safe To Use?

Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) Director General Balrama Bhargava has recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine for treating healthcare workers tackling the suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases and also the asymptomatic household contacts of the lab-confirmed cases.

Another scientist at ICMR said that the use of hydaroxychloroquine for treatment of SARS-Cov-2 infection is recommended only for asymptomatic healthcare workers who are involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The drug has several side effects like heart block, heart rhythm disturbance, dizziness, giddiness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

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