New Delhi: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is carrying out an observational study on the impact of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as a prophylactic and therapeutic drug on COVID-19, scientists of the apex biomedical research body said in a government briefing on Saturday.
“It is an observational study, a cohort. We are not doing a trial and we don’t have sufficient evidence base to do a trial. There will be about 480 patients who will be enrolled and it will go on for about 2.5 months,” said Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar, head of epidemiology and communicable diseases division at ICMR.
“We are also trying to understand the side effects of HCQ. We have seen abdominal pain among 10% patients, nausea among 6% patients as of now. Both the studies, on prophylaxis and therapeutic impact of HCQ, are being done in AIIMS,” he added.
On March 22, the national task force for COVID-19 recommended the use of HCQ for prophylaxis of SARS-CoV-2 infection for high-risk population. The ICMR has maintained this should be used primarily for asymptomatic health care workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 and asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory confirmed cases.
The exports of HCQ were initially banned. But the government decided to lift the export ban after US President Donald Trump asked India to supply the drug, which was followed by a request from Brazil.