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ICMR Recommends Use of Hydroxy-Chloroquine

  • 24 Mar 2020
  • 4 min read

Why in News

The National Task force for COVID-19, constituted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), has suggested the use of hydroxy-chloroquine to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) for restricted populations.

Key Points

  • Hydroxy-chloroquine :
    • Hydroxy-chloroquine is an oral drug used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
      • Autoimmune diseases are in which the body's immune system attacks healthy cells.
      • Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting many joints, including those in the hands and feet.
  • Hydroxy-chloroquine against COVID-19:
    • The drug shows antiviral activity in vitro against coronaviruses, and specifically, SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19].
    • Further, the study suggests that prophylaxis (treatment given to prevent disease) with hydroxy-chloroquine at approved doses could prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and may help to improve viral shedding.
    • Clinical trials are under way in China to know whether the drug can be used for treatment.
  • ICMR Recommended Use of Hydroxy-chloroquine:
    • The restricted population for usage of hydroxy-chloroquine include, namely, ‘Asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) Healthcare Workers’ and ‘Asymptomatic household contacts’ of laboratory-confirmed cases.
    • The above mentioned population have been advised to use the hydroxy-chloroquine to contain further spread of the pandemic.
    • However, the drug is not recommended as a preventive healthcare in children under 15 years of age.
    • ICMR also advised that placing healthcare workers under hydroxy-chloroquine treatment should not instill a sense of false security and they need to follow all prescribed public health measures such as frequent washing of hands, respiratory etiquettes, keeping a distance of minimum one metre and use of personal protective equipment, etc.
    • It has been also advised that the drug should only be given on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner.

Combination of Hydroxy-chloroquine with Other Drugs

  • Hydroxy-chloroquine and Chloroquine:
    • A study suggests that both hydroxy-chloroquine and chloroquine have in vitro activity against SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2, and other coronaviruses, with hydroxy-chloroquine having higher potency against SARS-CoV-2.
  • Hydroxy-chloroquine with Azithromycin:
    • The combination is hydroxy-chloroquine with azithromycin, a commonly used antibiotic.
    • The combination is expected to be efficient for virus elimination.


  • In vitro studies are performed with microorganisms, cells, or biological molecules outside their normal biological context (such as in a test tube).
  • In contrast to in vitro experiments, in vivo studies are those conducted in living organisms, including humans, and whole plants.

Indian Council of Medical Research

  • Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research.
  • Its mandate is to conduct, coordinate and implement medical research for the benefit of the Society; translating medical innovations into products/processes and introducing them into the public health system.
  • It is funded by the Government of India through the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.


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