Is Taking Hydroxychloroquine a Risk or a Preventive Measure for COVID-19?

Updated on May 23rd, 2020
hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus

Although the cases are growing, people have become more comfortable with the situation of lockdown. Nations around the world are easing lockdown mechanisms and promoting protocols of physical distancing, cleanliness, and self-care. Vaccines are underway with many companies starting with human-trials.

However, many doctors and scientists say that there is no cure yet for coronavirus. But, hydroxychloroquine is circling for quite a long time, with people believing it can cure coronavirus. But, is it true? No. And doctors and researchers also warn about the potential adversities that can impact a person’s health.

What exactly is hydroxychloroquine?

Hydroxychloroquine is a drug to prevent or treat malaria or malarial fever caused by mosquito bites. Some nations also recommend it to their citizens when traveling abroad with a risk of catching the illness.

It is considered an anti-rheumatic drug that regulates the immune system. The drug is recommended to reduce the pain and swelling of arthritis. It can also prevent and reduce the risk of long-term disability. These days, experts also use hydroxychloroquine to treat rheumatoid arthritis, childhood arthritis, and other autoimmune disorders. The drug’s comprehensive benefits and potential effects on the immune system and the human body is still unclear. It is believed that the drug interferes with the communication of cells in the immune system and fights infections.

Can it cure/treat Novel Coronavirus?

hydroxychloroquine
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There are mixed reviews about hydroxychloroquine’s ability to treat novel coronavirus. But, one must be cautious before taking it.

Currently, we do not have enough data to conclude if the drug can prevent or treat novel coronavirus. There are a lot of trials going around the globe, where sick patients were given the medication. Some people have gotten better, while others experienced some dangerous side effects.

But, since some doctors and other medical experts are talking about it online, it is imperative to understand the drug before taking it. Researchers are also working on understanding the possibilities of drugs to prevent or mitigate the infection’s adversities. Here, they are not only using hydroxychloroquine but a combination of drugs.

What is the current information we have on hydroxychloroquine?

Scientists, researchers, or doctors cannot conclude the possibilities in a short time. They invest time and their knowledge in questioning and verifying the results to see the actual benefits or probable use of it for treatments.

According to a lab test (1), it may help stop the coronavirus from infecting cells and reduce the replication. The drug can deregulate some interactions of coronavirus proteins, which can thus mitigate the adversity of infection (2). It does so by making it difficult for the virus to replicate.

The other reason for the spike in use could be the availability and recommendations of it. If something is in our reach and we know or have heard that it helps someone fight or prevent a disease, we generally tend to take it too as a preventive measure. However, it should be noted that researchers who are testing the drug, use a combination, and under a controlled environment to mitigate any adversities associated with it.

Does it have any side-effects?

Yes. Unless prescribed by a physician, taking hydroxychloroquine can have negative impacts. And drugs are generally administered or given after understanding the overall health condition.

People with cardiac disorders can experience severe adversities after using the drug. It can lead to fatal heart-rhythm problems.

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People with low oxygen or potassium levels in their blood can also fall prey to the side effects of the drug.

A study was conducted in various hospitals around the globe where people were given hydroxychloroquine, alone and in combination with other drugs. Multiple factors of age, sex, obesity, smoking, underlying health conditions, and stage of the coronavirus were taken into consideration. The mortality rate was around 18% for those who were given only hydroxychloroquine (3) alone. Mortalities were also seen in people who received a combination of hydroxychloroquine and other drugs.

However, people with chronic cardiac & kidney disorders were not seen in most of these trials.

Unadministered usage of hydroxychloroquine can have the following adverse effects on a person:

Headaches, dizziness, and digestive disorders are some mild effects that may go away within a couple of days or weeks. However, high usage of it or those with underlying health issues may face some severe problems. Below listed are a few:

  • Hair loss
  • Visionary damage
  • Cardiac issues
  • Hearing disorders
  • Sore throat
  • Weakness in muscles
  • Psychological disorders
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising

Conclusion:

So, does hydroxychloroquine work for coronavirus? We do not have a solid answer on that, as of now. However, with the ongoing clinical trials, we can expect some certainty about its usage. The research is also being done to understand the possibility of hydroxychloroquine in preventing the coronavirus.

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