India has become the third worst affected country globally in relation to COVID-19 pandemic; the triad consists of India, USA and Brazil. Quite early in the course of the pandemic the Indian government either gifted or sold the drug Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) – a drug primarily used against malaria and a host of other diseases including autoimmune diseases like SLE. A section of medical scientists in India had a belief – with not an iota of scientific evidence – that HCQ could be useful in preventing n-coronavirus infection as also in severe pneumonia due to COVID-19.

The Indian Prime Minister was passionate in this belief and publicly aired his concern for helping other countries in their fight against the pandemic. Trump called it a wonder drug, nay a game changer; he even testified that he feels absolutely great after taking HCQ. He even said HCQ has tremendous, rave reviews.

In a letter written to PM Modi regarding the supply of HCQ, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro stated:

“Just as Lord Hanuman brought the holy medicine from the Himalayas to save the life of Lord Rama’s brother Laksmana (sic), … India and Brazil will overcome this global crisis by joining forces and sharing blessings for the sake of all peoples.”

Modi said in his Mann Ki Baat on 26 April, 2020.

“Today, when world leaders say ‘thank you, India; thank you, people of India’ I feel very proud. India is caring for its own citizens and is contributing towards creating a healthier planet,”…

A glimpse of what has appeared in the media about the COVID-19 – both contracting the infection and deaths among healthcare service providers in USA, Brazil and India:

  • Bloomberg reported on 21 May, 2020 that “coronavirus is killing Brazilian nurses faster than anywhere else in the world as the pandemic spreadsin the Latin American nation. The country’s Federal Nursing Council says there are more than 15,000 nurses infected with Covid-19, which according to the council represents almost 40% of the global case toll. As of Wednesday, 137 nurses had died.”
  • The Telegraph, India reported on 29 May, 2020 that more than 2000 health care workers in India were infected by the n-coronavirus over an 8 week period till April 30 as per an ICMR study.
  • The Guardian reported on 6 June, 2020 that nearly 600 US health workers died of COVID-19 and the toll is rising.
  • The Times of India reported on 30 June, 2020 that 2,000 Delhi health workers are Covid-infected and 8 have died.

It is obvious that the triumvirate of – Trump, Bolsonaro and Modi – have taken not only the people of their own countries but also of the whole world for a ride. Even a lay person can conclude that these three countries in the forefront of propagating HCQ have a very high number of infections and deaths amongst the healthcare service providers. If HCQ had indeed been provided (and it was effective) to doctors, nurses and others in these three countries, then there should have been no case of infection and death due to n-coronavirus in health care service providers. Yet what we are seeing is thousands upon thousands of doctors, nurses and others getting infected in USA, Brazil and India. This is prima facie evidence that HCQ has no preventive role in COVID-19.

Secondly, on 17 June, 2020 WHO announced “that the hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) arm of the Solidarity Trial to find an effective COVID-19 treatment was being stopped … that hydroxychloroquine does not result in the reduction of mortality of hospitalised COVID-19 patients…” So finally even the WHO has come to conclude that HCQ will not benefit patients of severe pneumonia in COVID-19 infection.

An independent international enquiry should be instituted to ascertain as to how many of the health care service providers died due to use of HCQ rather than COVID-19.

[Dr. P. S. Sahni is a member of ABVA. On 27 April, 2020, we had demanded that Indian Government should recall HCQ from 55 countries who were gifted/sold this drug by India.]


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