BH CORRESPONDENT, New Delhi: No one is quite sure as to why US President Donald Trump is so keen to push chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, that are often used in the treatment of malaria, as a sure shot cure for those infected with COVID-19.
To ensure supplies, he even went on to the extent of connecting with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and asked him personally to lift India’s export embargo on quinine-family medicines for his country.
Earlier on April 4, India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade had banned the export of Hydroxychloroquine and its formulations.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert and key member of Trump’s task force dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, has vehemently opposed the US President’s decision on this. Fauci frequently opposes the idea and is keen for more scientific evidence.
On two occasions last week, Trump talked about the drug on Saturday and Sunday during his press brief. He even advised people to use it before they contract the virus.
“Take it. What do you have to lose?” the President said on Saturday, suggesting that he might do so himself after asking “my doctors”.
In a series of conversations in March, Trump personally instructed top officials at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to focus on these two drugs as potential therapies, said two sources familiar with the matter.
Some experts have compared the idea with trying to shoot a target in the darkness as the efficacy of malaria drugs for coronavirus treatment have not been documented enough. Till now, there’s too much dependence on anecdotes, the experts opined.
However, the FDA finds itself in a spot and plays safe. The statement released by FDA said, “It was determined, based on the scientific evidence available, that it is reasonable to believe that the specific drugs may be effective in treating COVID-19, and that, given there are no adequate, approved, or available alternative treatments, the known and potential benefits to treat this serious or life-threatening virus outweigh the known and potential risks.”
Around the same time, the CDC also released a document which described possible prescription information for coronavirus patients and proposed using hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as an option in coronavirus treatment. This was the first time the US government’s disease control agency had officially floated the idea.
On Sunday, around 313,000 cases of infected case had been confirmed in the US and around 8,500 people have died so far.