Co-Written by Dr. P. S. Sahni & Shobha Aggarwal
In recent weeks the Indian Government has – in a seeming show of altruism – been gifting the drug Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to a number of countries ostensibly to be used as a prophylactic measure by health care professionals managing n-coronavirus patients. Those countries have – through return post/email – duly acknowledged the help. Almost at the speed of light both these acts – of HCQ being gifted and the benevolence being acknowledged by the recipient country with thanks – have been instantly and duly broadcasted several times a day by the state-controlled All India Radio. The blitzkrieg of publicity is repeated every time a new country is chosen to be extended the largesse. So far so good, perhaps – but just perhaps.
Surely the Indian health authorities are not oblivious to the scandalous developments – bordering on criminality – worldwide. In at least four continents HCQ is being used as a treatment drug for COVID-19 patients without a shred of evidence as to its usefulness. Why does the Indian Government assume that the drug supplied would not be misused by these 55 countries?
Infection with n-coronavirus adversely affects the lungs, heart, kidney, brain, skin; it is also seen to be causing clotting of blood. Thus a patient with n-coronavirus infection gets his/her heart bombarded through three ways – through the infection itself; through the side-effects of HCQ; and any other pre-existing heart problem.
The Guardian, in its International Edition dated 27 March, 2020 reported:
“Popular pressure for access to the drug has been ramped up by pronouncements from presidents Donald Trump in the US and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, both of whom have claimed it is a cure. An Australian businessman, the former politician Clive Palmer, has pledged to fund 1m doses “to ensure all Australians would have access to the drug as soon as possible”.”
The report also stated:
“One small trial in China … was far from sufficient to show that it works.”
The Guardian also informed:
“… the French government … decreed that hospitals could prescribe it for any Covid-19 patient…
That Italy has followed suit. The government announced … that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine could be used to treat all Covid-19 patients and paid for entirely by the Italian national healthcare system.” (emphasis provided)
Meanwhile the National Institutes of Health (USA) declared on April 9, 2020:
“Many U.S. hospitals are currently using hydroxychloroquine as first-line therapy for hospitalized patients with COVID-19 despite extremely limited clinical data supporting its effectiveness,” (emphasis provided)
It mentioned that a clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of HCQ for the treatment of adults hospitalized with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has begun.
In India many healthcare workers who took HCQ reported side-effects like pain in the abdomen; nausea; and hypo-glycaemia (low blood sugar). This got revealed during a study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). This premier medical research institute is examining the side-effects and efficacy of HCQ as a prophylactic treatment. [The Times of India (ToI), 19.04.2020]
As if any more evidence was needed a report in the ToI dated 23 April, 2020 warned:
“a U.S. government funded analysis of how military veterans fared on hydroxychloroquine posted on a medical pre-print site on Tuesday found the drug had no benefit against COVID-19, and was associated with more deaths.”
In gross violation of ICMR guidelines right in the heart of Mumbai, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had earlier decided to give HCQ as a preventive medication to around a 100,000 people living in the city’s slums, Dharavi and Worli (COVID-19 hotspots). Later this decision was reversed – and rightly so. (ToI, 16.04.2020). If even within India HCQ was getting misused, one can imagine how the gifted medicine would get misused in the 55 countries which are recipient of the drug.
Politicians in USA, Europe, Australia and India have wittingly or otherwise drummed up a campaign for use of HCQ – which has now resulted in patients in ICUs being administered the drug as a first line therapy. This has resulted in deaths. Wisdom dictates that HCQ be recalled by India from all the 55 countries.
[Dr. P. S. Sahni & Shobha Aggarwal are independent medico-legal researchers and members of ABVA. Email: email@example.com]