Covid-19: Maharashtra can deliver anti-malaria drugs as preventive medicine

MUMBAI: Concerned that Covid-19 cases may increase exponentially in the city's densely populated slums, the Maharashtra government is considering giving () tablets as preventive medicine to slum residents at increased risk of infection.

A senior state government official said suspicious patients kept in quarantine centers in Dharavi would likely be the first to receive HCQS, an antimalarial drug that United States President Donald Trump wanted India to supply to the United States. , since it could be a game changer. in the fight against Covid-19. In places like Dharavi, the plan is more of a sociodemographic compulsion, the state government official said.

If state plans are followed, it could be the first time that HCQS is used as Covid-19 prophylaxis at the community level.

In confirming the move, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said: HCQS is used to treat malaria and there have been cases of use in the United States as preventive medicine against Covid-19. We plan to use it in areas like Dharavi where the risk of infection is high.

Details such as number of people, dose and duration of treatment are being worked out.

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Currently, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) approves HCQS as preventive medicine only for healthcare workers.

Dr. Subhash Salunkhe, state technical adviser on pandemic control, said: There is adequate medical literature to demonstrate that the use of HCQS will have definite advantages at this stage. He added that the HCQS plan will have strict exclusion criteria, as it is known. affects the heart and retina.

Tope also said there is no problem with the supply of HCQS in the state. Of course, all Dharavi will not be given the drug. We cannot waste resources like that, he said. People will be classified into groups: those at high risk, those in government quarantine, and those in contact with positive patients.

HCQS is not only used to treat malaria, but is routinely prescribed for patients with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr. Om Srivastava said: HCQS has a role as a preventative medicine in Covid as it can modulate the immune system. Dr. Shashank Joshi, dean of the Indian College of Physicians, said: There has been no clinical trial proving that HCQS works, but it could prevent a cytokine storm in mild to moderate cases.

TOI has learned that the state will send a formal proposal to the Center and ICMR within a day or two. Once documentation is in place, we will distribute tablets to people at quarantine centers in Dharavi, an official said.

Health officials are concerned that cases may spread rapidly in densely populated areas. Another officer said that if the drug works well in Dharavi, we might consider using it in other pockets as well.

Both Tope and Dr. Salunkhe declined to give details such as how many people would receive the medication and when the treatment will begin. But sources said the HCQS plan has already been discussed with the Covid national workforce team.

`` In India, HCQS is suggested as a preventive medicine or for those with mild symptoms. In the United States, they want to use it for seriously ill patients, but there is little evidence to suggest that it works in such cases, a doctor at a public hospital said.