News about drug hydroxychloroquine in treatment against COVID-19 is going round for some time. After the US, India too allowed its usage in treating patients with severe disease. And more recently, the US asked India to allow its export to treat COVID-19 patients in the US.

But, with all this noise around hydroxychloroquine being an effective drug against COVID, what do experts say about it?

Trump and Fauci
Donald Trump takes questions with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci at the coronavirus response daily briefing at the White House.Credit: Reuters

Before we go further, it's important to remember that hydroxychloroquine was allowed for usage in the US after President Donal Trump touted its efficacy against COVID-19 without providing any credible proof for it.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), under pressure from the White Houses, allowed its usage but issued a caution against its usage.

There are no US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs specifically for the treatment of patients with COVID-19."

Response of the man leading task against COVID-19 in US

The man leading the Coronavirus Task Force in the US and is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, too, didn't give an unreserved approval for hydroxychloroquine's universal usage in treatment against coronavirus

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On Sunday, in a press conference when reporters asked him about its efficacy against SARS -CoV-2, Trump, who was also present there, cut in even before Fauci could reply, saying answer about effective of hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19 has been answered many time. Trump said Hydroxychloroquine is effective against the disease. Again without providing any proof.

CDC's take on Hydroxychloroquine

CDC, on its websites, clearly mentions about a limited clinical trial of Hydroxychloroquine. Though it mentions about its success in some cases in treatment against SARS-CoV-2, it says the result is from limited cases and more trial needs to be done before it can be declared safe for majority.

Prolonged usage of hydroxychloroquine has also been documented to cause major health issue in person with certain premedical conditions.coronavirus vaccine. representational.

There has been some tests and trial going on about Hydroxychloroquine in China as well. However, there too, no official confirmed report has allowed usage of Hydroxychloroquine on mass level. It is again, allowed in severe cases that too under medical supervision.

Why more trial

The success so far is limited in patients hospitalized with severe SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, factors of age, duration of drug administration, and presence of other medical conditions have not been taken into consideration during the limited trials.

Hydroxychloroquine has been in use for decades for treating malaria, arthritis and lupus. But its prolonged use has also been documented to cause major health issue in person with certain premedical conditions.

The drug hydroxychloroquine has been found to cause the following health conditions in some cases.

1. Heart attack

2. Renal failure

CDC cautions, "Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are associated with QT prolongation and caution is advised when considering these drugs in patients with chronic medical conditions (e.g. renal failure, hepatic disease) or who are receiving medications that might interact to cause arrhythmia."

SARS-COV-2 virus
Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (red) infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (yellow), also known as novel coronavirus, isolated from a patient sample.Reuters

No guidance on drugs dosage

About Hydroxychloroquine dosage in treating patients with COVID-19, CDC, on its website, says there has been no recommended dosage and the doctors are administering it under investigational settings.

"There are no currently available data from Randomized Clinical Trials (RCTs) to inform clinical guidance on the use, dosing, or duration of hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis or treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection," according to CDC.

US FDA says 'No'

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the US has also not approved usage of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine in order to prevent coronavirus. In its FAQs, FDA says the agency "is still working to determine if the drug can be used for treating patients with COVI-19".

Man dies after taking chloroquine

In the US, news of person taking unapproved chloroquine out of desperation to be safe from novel coronavirus leading to his death was reported. He allegedly took a different form of chloroquine used to treat aquariums, without consulting with doctors after he heard Trump touting Hydroxychloroquine effectiveness in the fight against the coronavirus. 

That's why it is important to conduct more trials before the drug can be confirmed to be safe for usage. Before that, let the doctors and scientists use it for their investigation in a controlled setting.