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Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin : a miracle treatment for Covid 19?

  • Adrija Ray Chaudhury | Team PresentMirror | Updated: July 17, 2020, 10:13 a.m.

As of 14th July, 2020 Covid-19 cases are racing towards the 1 million benchmark in India. Also, countries like the United States and Brazil are fiercely fighting the virus and its deleterious effects. Under such dreadful circumstances, Hydroxychloroquine in combination with azithromycin has been claimed to cure many Covid-19 patients. So is this the panacea for the worldwide pandemic or its damaging effects outcast its healing property?


Hydroxychloroquine is commonly sold under the brand name Plaquenil and is highly beneficial in treating malaria and auto-immune disorders. Areas which are sensitive to malaria have often found extensive use of Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate by medical practitioners and patients likewise. The case is not very different when it comes to auto-immune disorders. Auto-immune diseases hinder our body's ability to identify foreign bodies and in turn starts attacking healthy tissues present inside. It not only weakens a person physically, but also amplifies mental impoverishment.

Hydroxychloroquine works as a silver lining for patients detected with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. However lately, our ecclesiastical cure has also been found useful in curing the viral disease that has grappled the entire world and is killing thousands everyday. On 15th July, 2020 a test was conducted on 500 patients in Kerala and the results have made many faces smile and quite a few eyebrows rise.

Evidences in support of Favourable Outcomes


• A multi-hospital assessment was conducted by Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) in Southeast Michigan which included a large six hospital integrated health system, the largest of which was a 802-bed quaternary academic teaching hospital in urban Detroit. The primary participants were Consecutive patients hospitalized with a COVID-related admission in the health system from March 10, 2020 to May 2, 2020. The patients were administered a dose of Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin or only Hydroxychloroquine or only azithromycin or neither.

The results spoke for themselves. "In-hospital mortality rate by treatment: hydroxychloroquine + azithromycin, 157/783 (20.1% [95% CI: 17.3%–23.0%]), hydroxychloroquine alone, 162/1202 (13.5% [95% CI: 11.6%–15.5%]), azithromycin alone, 33/147 (22.4% [95% CI: 16.0%–30.1%]), and neither drug, 108/409 (26.4% [95% CI: 22.2%–31.0%])." The doctors on duty during the test asserted that there was a 66% hazard ratio reduction in COVID-19 patients who were given a dose of Hydroxychloroquine alone while a combined dose of Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin provided a 71% hazard ratio reduction. No other treatment has ever got any close to this treatment.

• Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have been found to be efficient on SARS-CoV-2, and reported to be efficient in Chinese COV-19 patients. Another trial was conducted in French hospitals while it was going through an acceleration phase to evaluate the effect of hydroxychloroquine on respiratory viral loads. The entire test background, its data and results were documented in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents. "French Confirmed COVID-19 patients were included in a single arm protocol from early March to March 16th, to receive 600mg of hydroxychloroquine daily and their viral load in nasopharyngeal swabs was tested daily in a hospital setting."

The doctors took all necessary precautions and also azithromycin to the treatment if the clinical presentation of a patient demanded so. Twenty patients were tested and after a 6 day administration, medical studies showed a significant reduction in viral carriage in patients under the direct imposition of Hydroxychloroquine compared to patients who were not dispensed any treatment. Furthermore, Azithromycin added to hydroxychloroquine was significantly more efficient for virus elimination.


HCQ interfering with the terminal glycosylation of cellular receptor ACE-2, thus hampering virus-receptor binding; Image Credits: Biomed Central

• A clinical management study of COVID-19 patients in Kerala, India was organised by the state medical board inspecting the effects of HCQ+azithromycin on the first 500 cases reported till May first week. As a part of the exercise, patients were advised an early dosage of Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. The medical authorities reported that of these 500, only 3 died and 95.8% of the patients were diagnosed with mild symptoms. The study found that the mean duration of hospital stay in patients who received HCQ+azithromycin was 13.51 days, compared to 14.45 days for those who did not receive the two drugs. The doctors said that an early administration of Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin has probably prevented the progression of the disease from mild to moderate and severe, especially in the aged group.

In spite of repeated tests examining the validity and efficacy of the drug, some organizations are desperately trying to overrule the salubrious effects of the affordable medicine. Doctors have time and again used their social networking handles to make the sundry aware of the side effects of this drug but they have also made it very clear that the harmful consequences are limited to a meager population. Then why has it still not come into regular practice?


A few days back, a study that suggested using hydroxychloroquine a malaria drug to treat people with COVID-19 could be dangerous is now itself getting questioned. Similar studies that pronounced the ill-effects of hcq being lethal to a healthy human heart and subsequently slowed clinical trials are also being reverified. While quidnuncs have it that there might be a conspiracy underlying the use of such a cheap and inexpensive drug to treat the viral pandemic as it fails to safeguard the interests of the billionaires who have invested millions in costly pharmaceuticals. Yet there is still a ray of hope for us as Indian Government has cut taxes on the use of Hydroxychloroquine back by US president Donald Trump endorsing the medicine himself. Now, it is a matter of time before HCQ becomes a global remedy for COVID-19.

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