Hydroxychloroquine or HCQ, the anti-malarial drug widely promoted by US President Donald Trump & garnering a lot of attention for Indian PM Narendra Modi has been found ineffective by researchers at Columbia University.
The latest development comes after most of the countries had stocked up on supplies of HCQ and many nations used their leverage with Indian PM – Narendra Modi to get it delivered faster than anyone else.
According to the observational study, HCQ did not lower the risk of dying or needing a breathing tube in a comparison that involved nearly 1,400 patients treated at Columbia University in New York.
The New England Journal of Medicine writes that the study throws light on decisions that hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 patients have already had to make without clear evidence about the drug’s side effects and benefits.
“It is disheartening that several months into the pandemic, we do not yet have results” from any strict tests of the drug, they wrote. Still, the new study “suggests that this treatment is not a panacea.’’ The Food and Drug Administration of the US had cautioned against its use for coronavirus infections except for informal studies.
As per the Times of Israel, doctors at the university observed how 565 patients who did not get the drug fared compared to 811 others who received HCQ with or without the antibiotic azithromycin, a combo Trump also has supported.
In total, 180 patients required breathing tubes and 232 died, and the drug did not really create an impact. Patients given HCQ were generally ill compared to the others, but widely accepted methods were used to take that into account and still no benefit was seen for the drug
In April, as the pandemic was gathering pace, countries all over the world started importing HCQ from India based on President Trump’s belief that HCQ is the medicine for treating COVID-19.
As reported by EurAsian Times earlier, HCQ had become the linchpin of Indian diplomacy. India is one of the largest producers of the drug in the world and exports $50mn worth of it every year. This makes India the supplier to 80-85% of the global demand and explains its import to the world during the pandemic.
Countries such as the US, Israel and Brazil and others had earlier requested India for providing the drug. New Delhi exported 35.82 lakh worth tablets of hydroxychloroquine to the US along with nine metric tons of active pharmaceutical ingredient or API required in the manufacturing of the drug April. Israel also received millions of tablets and so did Brazil.
The export of HCQ won India international praise and got the Indian PM unexpected limelight and global media attention.
Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro and Benyamin Nethanyahu all personally thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his support. Even United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, saluted the efforts of countries like India helping COVID-19 affected countries.
Regardless of the success of the drug, countries will remember India’s contribution during a global pandemic. India exported the drug to 97 according to the Health Ministry even though it itself faced a shortage of staff.