New Delhi [India], May 29 (ANI): After the Union Health Ministry expressed reservations about the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) advisory to suspend hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) usage in treating COVID-19 patients, now, India’s nodal government agency ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) overseeing the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has also written to the WHO citing differences in dosage standards between Indian and international trials that could explain the efficacy issues of HCQ in treating COVID-19 patients.
When contacted, Dr Godbole said: “Only one arm of the Solidarity trial by WHO has temporary been paused for a time being i.e. HCQ arm, other arms of the clinical trial are still active.”
On Thursday, Dr VK Paul, Member Niti Aayog and Chairman of empowered group 1 said: “When we see the present evidence of HCQ, there are fewer side-effects…We have studied HCQ drug very closely with our scientists and hence as per the latest government guidelines–HCQ drug can be given to frontline workers and severe coronavirus patients. However, these guidelines would be reviewed from time to time,” said Paul.
Currently, as per protocols set by the Indian government to treat severe coronavirus patients requiring ICU management, HCQ dosages are administered in the following way- 1st day a heavy dose of 400mg HCQ dose once in the morning and one at night, followed by 200 mg HCQ one in the morning and one at night to be followed for the next four days. The total dosage administered to a patient in 5 days, therefore, amounts to 2400 mg.
Speaking to ANI on the condition of anonymity, a Health Ministry official explained the context behind the ICMR and Health Ministry disagreeing with WHO’s assessment, the primary point being the wide gap in dosage levels given in India and internationally.
This indicates that in our treatment protocol, the efficacy of HCQ is good and patients are recovering quickly with less amount of dosage being administered,” said the official.
Buoyed by the preliminary success observed in the treatment of COVID-19 patients through these HCQ tablets, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has written to the WHO.
In a letter via an email, Dr Sheela Godbole, National Coordinator of the WHO-India Solidarity Trial and Head of the Division of Epidemiology, ICMR-National AIDS Research Institute has written to Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at World Health Organization.
In a letter, Dr Godbole stated: “There is no reason to suspend the trial for safety concerns,” attributing her statement to the current RECOVERY data which differs significantly from the non-randomised assessment by Mehra et al, a scientific paper.