Ever since the Coronavirus has made its conspicuous presence felt across countries and continents the globe at large seems to have been gripped by an inexplicable sense of panic. The pandemic COVID 19 is all that has been hovering over people’s minds and spreading uncertainties like never before. Once completely healthy people are falling victim to this disease where not only those infected by it but also healthcare professionals are not being spared and left at its mercy. Whilst some overcome the illness, several others have succumbed to it. In this article, we will cover how the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine can to an extend help reduce the mortality rate arising from COVID 19.
What is Hydroxychloroquine?
Healthcare professionals the world over are trying to tackle COVID 19 in ways best known to the medical field. Scientists and doctors have been working round the clock to bring forth medications and vaccines that can immunize the human body over the highly infectious SARS-Cov-2, the virus responsible for causing COVID 19. That’s when suggestions started pouring in over the possible use of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of the same. Hydroxychloroquine is a medicine that is generally used to treat various autoimmune disorders. It can be used to treat both adults and kids. Initially used as an anti-malaria drug, over the years doctors prescribed this medicine to treat illnesses like lupus, juvenile arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Just as in the case with any prescription drug, this medicine should also be taken only if the doctor gives a green signal for the same, because in some cases it may pose serious side effects. Possible side effects of hydroxychloroquine could be:
- Weakness of muscles
- Mood swings
- Lowering of blood sugar level
Some serious side effects have also been reported in people depending on the person’s age, weight and other underlying health conditions. So, make sure your doctor is made aware of other medications that you are taking before he can prescribe a safe dose of hydroxychloroquine for you.
Who does COVID 19 affect the most and how
Keeping aside the fact that anyone can be infected with COVID 19, it has been largely observed that certain categories of people are left more vulnerable to the risks posed by the disease as compared to others. These are:
- People who are 60 years or older.
- People with underlying health conditions of the heart and lungs
- Those who have diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Those with diseases of the liver, brain and the nervous system.
- People who have a weak immune system
Severe symptoms in these people are often observed as serious shortness of breath, unable to focus, severe chest pain, pneumonia, severe heart and lung problems, kidney injury, lips/face turning blue, organ failure, contracting other infections and in worst cases death of the person.
Hydroxychloroquine for hospitalized COVID 19 patients
Out of the several studies conducted over patients suffering from COVID 19, one that emerged promising was the treatment meted out using the anti-viral drug hydroxychloroquine. President Trump of the United States had given the green signal to this medicine calling it a ‘game-changer’ which could possibly hold some fact, especially in relevance to treating those battling for their lives from this disease. So far this pandemic has claimed the lives of over 972,327 people worldwide and most of these deaths can be attributed to the lack of the right medicine given to fight the disease. Out of several studies conducted related to this particular drug, the one done by Henry Ford Health System, which was published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, placing under observation around 2500 hospitalized COVID 19 patients. It was analyzed that those that were administered hydroxychloroquine showed less mortality rate comparatively provided it was given in the initial phase of treatment. Another interesting finding was that no side effects related to the heart were recorded in these patients. These new findings were made after extensive research and multiple reviewing were done, in comparison with previous findings related to using this anti-viral drug. Some earlier studies conducted on the same showed contradictory and confusing results among doctors who differed in their opinions over using this drug for treating COVID 19 patients. However, the Henry Ford Health System review seemed to shine a ray of hope. The focus was thrown on the dosage administered, additional peer-reviewing, increasing the number of patients observed, increasing geographical area of patients reviewed as well as those with existing health conditions were specifically monitored. Several other studies pertaining to hospitalized COVID 19 patients also showed favorable results in administering hydroxychloroquine which helped reduce the death rate. However, using this medicine outside of a clinical trial or a hospital setting was not recommended and cautioned against because high-risk COVID 19 patients required constant monitoring due to the possibility of life-threatening side effects.
Factors to consider before taking hydroxychloroquine for COVID 19
Generally, before taking any medicine it is good to clear doubts with your doctor pertaining to the illness, the medicine being administered and for possible side effects and related risks, if any. Certain factors that need to be looked into before taking this anti-viral drug hydroxychloroquine is as follows:
- Underlying health conditions – make sure your doctor is made aware of any and all other health-related problems that you have especially like the kinds of diabetes, nerve problems, psoriasis, vision-related issues, stomach related issues, blood disorders, kidney and liver issues.
- Allergies – inform your doctor of pre-existing allergic reactions to medications as well as regarding general allergies, if any, in order to avoid health risks whilst taking the medicine.
- Interactions with other medicines – keep the doctor informed of other medicines that you are taking for pre-existing health conditions. Some medicines may interact negatively with other drugs and cause more havoc than good. So to avoid this scenario keep your doctor informed so that he can decide whether to prescribe the medicine for you or not.
- In the case of nursing mothers – inform the doctor if you are a nursing mother so the doctor can decide with the medicine administration accordingly. More studies need to be conducted on possible risks to infants related to the mother taking the medicine.
- In the case of children – studies conducted so far have not shown any major health-related side effects that may pose a threat to children over taking the medication when used for the treatment of malaria. More studies are underway.
- For older people – elder people who were administered with the drug seemed to tolerate the medicine and various studies conducted approved the same. However, the dosage amount would depend on the age of the patient keeping a check on underlying health conditions.
We have all heard time and again that necessity is the mother of all inventions. As far as the novel coronavirus pandemic is concerned it has not only become necessary to eradicate this disease but it has become the dire need of the hour. Scientists and healthcare professionals are trying in desperation to come up with a vaccine to curb the spread of this highly infectious disease. Until then we have no option but to put our best resources and knowledge to use. Several studies are still under way to conclude how fail-proof the treatment using hydroxychloroquine is but one cannot overlook the fact that it did benefit many. Let us continue fighting this disease by adhering to guidelines put forth by governments and healthcare professionals and ensure to get rid of this disease once and for all.