With ongoing research on ways to prevent more people from encountering the SARS-CoV-2 (virus causing the COVID-19) and to treat the existing patients, Hydrochloroquine is a tentative medication.
Hydrochloroquine is a safer derivative of the old malarial drug chloroquine and it was developed around 70 years ago. The drug has attracted researchers’ attention to it over the past decades as a prospective antiviral agent. The SARS-CoV-2 being a virus is the mandated target of this drug. Hydrochloroquine is essentially a rheumatoid arthritis medication in the United States. It has also been noteworthy for treatment of a parasitic disease-malaria and an autoimmune dermatological disease-lupus.
There have been studies emerging from all over the world regarding use of hydrochloroquine or the malarial drug in treating patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2. Of these studies, some reports from China showed that chloroquine could inhibit SARS-CoV-2 under in vitro conditions and it showed potency to treat COVID-19 in humans. An independent small scale study in France also showed the efficaciousness of hydrochloroquine in treatment of COVID-19.
These studies have attracted attention of many more research personnel and governments from all over the globe. The US president Donald Trump has been prompted to herald hydrochloroquine as prime candidate for fight against the pandemic that has hit the nation hard. Hydrochloroquine has been designated for off label use for treating COVID-19 by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Another big advancement for this drug is that it has been added to the global SOLIDARITY trial test by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Mechanism of action:
Although hydrochloroquine has been studied as an anti-viral drug for a few decades now and it has shown impressive activity against many viruses including strains of influenza and corona viruses in vitro.
The mechanism of action is not completely understood but the drug is known to decrease the acidic environment in the endosomes of the infected cells which prevents the release of the virus into the cytoplasm.
As a preventive measure the government has asked the pharmaceutical companies to start manufacturing more of hydrochloroquine and has asked other countries with more production rates of this drug to supply it to the US. It is a major preventive prescription for health workers in many areas of the world amid this pandemic.
Some health places are using the drug hydrochloroquine in combination with azithromycin on patients who are ill with the COVID-19.
Studies show that the previous drug combination of Lopinavir and Ritonavir or simply the blend of HIV drugs which was in the headlines did not show much advantage over the disease and is now only being used on a case-to-case basis on some unresponsive patients to other drugs.