BMC to give hydroxychloroquine tablets to those at risk of contracting COVID-19 in slum pockets

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Mumbai: Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar on Tuesday confirmed to The Free Press Journal that, as a preventive medication or prophylaxis, the BMC has decided to distribute hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets to healthy people who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 as they live in hotspots in the city, such as the slums of Dharavi and Worli Koliwada.

“So far, patients who have recovered from the coronavirus disease were given the hydroxychloroquine tablet with vitamin C tablet. If the drug is taken by those at risk of contracting the infection, then it reduces the risk to the person taking it even if the disease spreads. A decision has been taken by the BMC to soon distribute hydroxychloroquine tablets in some hotspots identified in the city”, Pednekar said.

The HCQ tablets will be given to healthy citizens between the ages of 18 and 55. BMC sources said the civic administration had taken a decision to distribute HCQ pills to those living in Dharavi and in COVID-19-affected parts of Worli, who are healthy and do not have underlying co-morbidities such as diabetes or hypertension.

The drug will be administered for seven weeks. In the first week, two pills will be given, and thereafter one pill for each remaining week, sources said. (HCQ) is an anti-malarial drug that has shown to have shortened the duration for clinical recovery in case of some Covid-19 patients.

However, these results have only been displayed in small lab-controlled tests. It’s efficacy in treating Covid-19 or as prophylaxis is yet to be conclusively established.

The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has cleared HCQ to be used as a prophylaxis by doctors, nurses and other health staff. The Union Health Ministry recently placed the drug under Schedule H1, which can be sold on prescription only.

U.S. President Donald Trump has called the drug a game changer in the fight against COVID-19. He had warned India of “retaliation’’” if it did not revoke the ban on its export. Notably, India had earlier allowed the export of the drug to 13 countries, including the US before putting a ban on all exports except for neighbouring SAARC countries that depended on India.

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