MUMBAI: Worried that Covid-19 cases may rise exponentially in the city's densely populated slums, the Maharashtra government is considering giving hydroxychloroquine sulphate (HCQS) tablets as a "preventive medicine" to slum residents at highest risk of the infection.
A high-ranking state government official said suspected patients kept in quarantine centres in Dharavi were likely to be the first to receive HCQS-an antimalarial drug that US president Donald Trump wanted India to supply to the US as it could be a "game-changer" in the fight against Covid-19. "In places like Dharavi, the plan is more a socio-demographic compulsion," the state government official said.
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If the state plans go through, it could be the first time that HCQS is used as a Covid-19 prophylaxis at the community level.
Confirming the move, Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said, "HCQS is used to treat malaria and there have been instances of it being used in the US as a preventive medicine against Covid-19. We plan to use it in areas like Dharavi where the risk of infection is high."
Details such as the number of people, dosage and duration of treatment are being worked out.
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At present, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) approves HCQS as a preventive medicine for healthcare workers only.
Dr Subhash Salunkhe, technical advisor to the state on pandemic control, said, “There is adequate medical literature to show that HCQS use will have definite advantages at this stage." He added the HCQS plan will have stringent exclusion criteria as it is known to affect heart and retina.
Tope also said that there is no problem with HCQS supply in the state. “Of course, the whole of Dharavi will not be given the drug. We cannot waste resources like that," he said. People will categorised into groups: those in high risk, those in government quarantine, and those in contact with positive patients.
HCQS is not only used to treat malaria, but is routinely prescribed to patients with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Infectious diseases specialist Dr Om Srivastava said, “HCQS has a role as a preventive medication in Covid as it is can modulate the immune system." Dr Shashank Joshi, dean of Indian College of Physicians, said, “There have been no clinical trial to prove HCQS works, but it cRead More – Source
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