Jamaica not using anti-malarial drug to treat COVID-19 patients

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With the help of Avera and Monument Health, they will treat "up to 100,000 people including outpatient and hospitalized patients with COVID-19, in addition to frontline health care workers, and high-risk individuals who have been exposed to the virus". 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 U.S. as a preventive medicine against Covid-19".

The drug, along with a similar medicine, chloroquine, has received much media attention after being repeatedly hyped by President Donald Trump as a "game changer" against COVID-19 in press briefings and cable news interviews.

It is one of several medicines being investigated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its global clinical trial seeking a treatment solution for COVID-19.

The Brazilian researchers planned to enroll 440 people in their study to test whether chloroquine is a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19. The researchers will give the patients two doses of hydroxychloroquine per day for five days.

All patients in the study also took an antibiotic called azithromycin, which is also known to increase the risk of heart rhythm problems. However, the drug can cause dermatological reactions, seizures, cardiac arrythmias, and hypoglycemia. The World Health Organization has also orchestrated an worldwide trial, called the Solidarity trial, to test the drugs, as well as three other candidate treatments. However, "all study participants will continue to receive clinical care as directed for their condition", the NIH said.

Shipment of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to the U.S. is likely to start next week, a leading pharma industry body has said.

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COVID-19 typically presents as an acute respiratory infectious illness, but it can damage many areas of the body, including the heart, lungs and blood, according to the NIH.

However as the perception of HCQ being effective in treatment of COVID-19 gains currency, the healthcare fraternity has been asking for more data on safety of the drug.

The limited number of patients in the study so far is not enough to determine if the drug has a benefit for COVID-19, but the researchers still plan to enroll patients in the low dose group to complete their study, they said.

Hydroxychloroquine has also been identified by the US Food and Drug Administration as a possible treatment for the Covid-19 and it is being tested on more than 1,500 coronavirus patients in NY.

"Based on the totality of scientific evidence available to FDA, it is reasonable to believe that chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate may be effective in treating COVID-19", FDA Chief Scientist Denise Hinton wrote in the approval letter.

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