Days after US President Donald Trump tweeted about 'chloroquine,' an anti-malaria drug, as an effective treatment for curing coronavirus, a 60-year-old man died while his wife remain critical after consuming chloroquine phosphate in Arizona.
On Saturday, Trump had tweeted: "HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains - Thank You! Hopefully they will BOTH (H works better with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents) ....be put in use IMMEDIATELY. PEOPLE ARE DYING, MOVE FAST, and GOD BLESS EVERYONE!"
According to the statistics provided by the World Health Organisation, at least 334,981 people are infected while over 14,652 deaths have taken place due to the coronavirus till last reported.
Couple was rushed to the hospital
According to the media reports, the couple was rushed to the hospital around 30 minutes after they consumed the chemical in their bid to protect themselves against the fatal coronavirus.
In a statement issued soon after, Banner Health, a non-profit hospital system based in Arizona, said: "A man has died and his wife is under critical care after the couple, both in their 60s, ingested chloroquine phosphate, an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks. Within thirty minutes of ingestion, the couple experienced immediate effects requiring admittance to a nearby Banner Health hospital."
Urging people to refrain from self-medication the statement further read: "Most patients who become infected with COVID-19 will only require symptomatic care and self-isolation to prevent the risk of infecting others. Check first with a primary care physician. The routine use of specific treatments, including medications described as 'anti-COVID-19', is not recommended for non-hospitalized patients, including the anti-malarial drug chloroquine."
According to the Daily Mail, Banner Poison and Drug Information Center medical director Dr Daniel Brooks, while advising the medical community against prescribing chloroquine medication to the non-hospitalised patients, said: "Given the uncertainty around COVID-19, we understand that people are trying to find new ways to prevent or treat this virus, but self-medicating is not the way to do so. The last thing that we want right now is to inundate our emergency departments with patients who believe they found a vague and risky solution that could potentially jeopardize their health. We are strongly urging the medical community to not prescribe this medication to any non-hospitalized patients."
Indian authorities planning to use 'chloroquine'
With 492 confirmed cases and nine deaths as per latest reports, the Indian authorities are recommending the use of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment and prevention for its healthcare workers against COVID-19.
According to the latest guidelines issued by the National Taskforce for COVID-19,"Hydroxy-chloroquine is found to be effective against coronavirus in laboratory studies and in-vivo studies. Its use in prophylaxis is derived from available evidence of benefit as treatment and supported by pre-clinical data. The following recommendation is based on these considerations, as well as risk-benefit consideration, under exceptional circumstances that call for the protection of high-risk individuals."
The recommendations cover the asymptomatic health care workers in close contact with cases of laboratory confirmed COVID-19 and asymptomatic close contacts (like household contacts) of positive COVID-19 cases. However, the authorities advise against the drug to be administered to children under 15 years of age
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which formed the National Task Force, in its advisory said that the 'placing of healthcare workers under chemoprophylaxis with hydroxy-chloroquine should not instil a sense of false security.'
"They should follow all prescribed public health measures such as frequent washing of hands, respiratory etiquette, keeping a distance of minimum one metre and use of personal protective equipment (wherever applicable). The high risk contacts of a positive case placed under chemo prophylaxis should remain in home quarantine while on prophylactic therapy. As recommended by the task force, the drug should only be given on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner," read the advisory on its website.