1. Hydroxy-chloroquine: The unproven ‘corona drug’ Trump is threatening India for

  • What is hydroxyl-chloroquine?

  • So, can India really help President Trump?

  • Does hydroxyl-chloroquine really work?

  • Which countries have authorised their use?

 UPSC can list these Questions under

GS paper 2 (Issues related to health, education and Human Resources.)

What is the context about?

  • US President Donald Trump has said he has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to relax India’s ban on hydroxychloroquine tablets so that the drug can be used to treat America’s COVID-19 patients.
  • A day earlier, India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade had prohibited export of the anti-malarial drug, which the US has described as a game-changer in the battle against the novel coronavirus.
  • Brazil has joined the US in urging India to lift the ban on hydroxychloroquine . Its all because, India is one of the global leaders in the production of the drug.

What is hydroxyl-chloroquine?

  • Hydroxy-chloroquine is very similar to Chloroquine, one of the oldest and best-known anti-malarial drugs.
  • The drug shows antiviral activity in vitro against coronaviruses, and specifically, SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19].
  • Further, the study suggests that prophylaxis (treatment given to prevent disease) with hydroxy-chloroquine at approved doses could prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and may help to improve viral shedding.
  • Clinical trials are under way in China to know whether the drug can be used for treatment.

So, can India really help President Trump?

India definitely has capacity to cater to both global and local markets. Of course, domestic considerations must come first, but we have the capacity.

Does hydroxyl-chloroquine really work?

  • Many virologists and infectious disease experts have cautioned that the excitement over hydroxychloroquine is premature.
  • Chloroquine seems to block the coronavirus in lab studies. There’s some anecdotal evidence from doctors saying it has appeared to help.
  • But crucially there have been no complete clinical trials which are important to show how the drug behaves in actual patients, although they are under way in China, the US, UK and Spain.

Which countries have authorised their use?

  • The US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), the body in charge of licensing medicines in America, has granted “emergency use” authorisation for these drugs in the treatment of Covid-19 for a limited number of hospitalised cases. That does not mean the FDA is saying they definitely work.
  • France has authorised doctors to prescribe them for patients with Covid-19, but the country’s medical watchdog has warned of side effects.
  • India’s health ministry has recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine as a preventative treatment for healthcare workers, as well as households in contact with confirmed cases if they have a prescription from a doctor.