In Assam's capital city Guwahati, a doctor at a private hospital died of a heart attack on March 28 after he allegedly consumed anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which is being used for the treatment of coronavirus patients.
NDTV reported that the doctor, identified as 44-year-old Utpaljit Barman, a senior anaesthetist, had consumed the drug of his own accord as a precaution against COVID-19.
As of now, It is not known if the drug caused the heart-attack, but, sources say, he had written a WhatsApp text to his colleague about feeling uneasy after taking the medicine.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), has recommended the drug for doctors, health workers and family members exposed to the COVID-19 patients. Although, Dr Barman, however, was not part of the fight against the disease as there is no coronavirus patient in Assam yet.
The ICMR has also warned that the drug should not be taken as self-medication to prevent or cure COVID-19.
"With the lockdown, our focus has been on tests and preparation; these are two vital factors recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Though we don't have a positive case, we are focusing on screening, testing and surveillance," Samir Sinha, the state's Health Secretary, was quoted as saying on March 29.
Exploration By Doctors
In China, Chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine were used to treat coronavirus patients.
Indian Express reported that Cipla chairman, YK Hamied, said in an interview that 80% of those who get the virus, it's very mild. Those under 20 hardly get it seriously. Out of the balance 20 per cent, 15 percent would be bad cases.
Hamied suggested drugs such as Antiflu (Oseltamivir), HCQS (Hydroxichloroquine), Azee (Azithromycin), and the AIDS drugs could be explored by the doctors for those 15% cases.
US President Donald Trump called Chloroquine a "miracle drug," and hyped-up trials beginning in New York. Thus, a lot of people stocked up the drug and started self medicating. This even lead to deaths due to improper dose and side effects.
At a news conference Dr Fauci, who has served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, was asked a question referring to a coronavirus news conference the previous day where President Trump had spoken positively about chloroquine.
When asked on the evidence to suggest that hydroxychloroquine might be used as a prophylaxis against COVID-19, Dr Fauci said that the evidence is only anecdotal. The study was not done in a controlled, clinical trial. Therefore a definitive statement cannot be made about this particular evidence.
WHO On Self Medication
While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease. WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19. However, there are several ongoing clinical trials that include both western and traditional medicines.
Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection.
Therefore, it would be safe, if the people who are using it, have sufficient knowledge about its dose, time of intake, side effect on overdose, but due to lack of information, it can cause serious effects such as antibiotic resistance, skin problem, hypersensitivity and allergy.
Also Read: Fact Check: Can Anti-Malaria Drug Cure COVID-19?