Since the day Coronavirus hit the world, Hydroxychloroquine continuosly seen as a potential to treat this virus. Though this drugs failed in many trials but still every country is maintaining their stockpile with Hydroxychloroquine.
Few days ago, The World Health Organization has temporarily paused the clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine/ chloroquine owing to safety concerns. While ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) has written to the WHO citing differences in dosage standards between Indian and international trials that could explain the efficacy issues of HCQ in treating COVID-19 patients.
So the question arises, Why such high hopes with Hydroxychloroquine, even after the drugs failing trials.
How Coronavirus affects our bodies.
Its basically a sequence of instructions encapsulated within a capsid,
So what are those instructions- manufacturing of proteins, and
What gets into a cell- it uses our ribosomes to make different parts of itself which magically join together creating an army of descendants to march on the rest of ourselves.
Why did we have so much faith in Hydroxychloroquine ?
it all began in China when the epidemic was in full pace in January 2020, in the city of Wuhan, Doctors in a Skin Clinic noticed something weird, some of the patients suffering from an autoimmune disease called Lupus, did not seem to be getting infected with this virus. After looking at various alternatives they developed the hypothesis that the patient’s might be getting a protective effect from the drug called hydroxychloroquine.
Hydroxychloroquine was originally developed to treat Malaria, but later it also used to treat rheumatoid, arthritis and lupus both autoimmune disorders.
The good news didn’t stop there when people went back to check the medical literature on the drug and they found that, Chloroquine has strong antiviral effects on SARS-CoV 2003 infection of primate cells. These inhibitory effects are observed when the cells are treated with the drug either before or after exposure to the virus, suggesting both prophylactic and therapeutic advantage.
This is why there was so much excitement about this drug and that’s why several countries ordered millions of tablets from India.
Note:- Therapeutic helps you once you’re sick but Prophylactic drug on the other hand prevents the infection from taking root in the first place.
So why are the studies on Hydroxychloroquine showing no effect.
It may be due to the nature of the Chloroquine studies.
The study is being conducted on patients who are already sick enough to be hospitalized and remember, it’s not usually the virus that kills you it’s your body’s response. A flood of T cells indiscriminately nuke your lung tissue commonly referred to as ‘Cytokine storm’, your body’s immune system overreacting to a threat.
If your situation is too critical that you need to be hospitalised, you may be at a point where the cytokine storm is likely to be triggered even if further viral replication stops the damage, and you’re no longer fighting the virus, now you are fighting with your own immune system.
Hydroxychloroquine has a couple of well-known side effects, one is blindness which is extremely rare and the other is an irregular heartbeat also known as arrhythmia for this reason.
It is not mandatory for people to take it and ICMR recommends that people with heart conditions or over a certain age should get an ECG before going on the drug luckily you don’t need to take it all that often.