NEW DELHI: India has become probably the first country in the world to allow prophylactic use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID 19, even though there is not enough evidence from good quality randomised clinical trials so far that the drug prevents the infection from novelcorona virus.A 21-member task force under Dr V K Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog, which has been constituted to combat the outbreak, on Sunday advocated that the drug, used primarily for treatment of malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and auto-immune disease lupus, should be used by asymptomatic healthcare workers treating suspected or confirmed COVID 19 patients and even asymptomatic household contacts of confirmed patients.
The recommendation was swiftly accepted by the Union Health Ministry, which notified it on Monday.
In the notification, the government, however. made it clear that the drug can be given only on the prescription of a doctor. It added that placing healthcare workers under chemoprophylaxis should not instill a false sense of security in them and that they should follow all prescribed public health measures to avoid the infection.
The notification, signed by Union health secretary Preeti Sudan, said that the healthcare workers should immediately report in case they develop any symptoms associated with COVID 19 or other symptoms. Household contacts of positive cases should also follow self-quarantine rules in addition to the preventive drug therapy, it added. The development however has raised some concerns with few public health specialists saying that the task force should also make public the “rationale” behind such a crucial decision.