US President Donald Trump on Sunday has said that he had requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to export hydroxychloroquine tablets to the United States.
“I may take it too. I will have to speak to speak to my doctors,” said President Trump, while speaking to the media. Notably, the US president tested negative for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The tests were conducted after he met a Brazilian official close to Brazil President Jair Bolsanaro.
Trump’s statement has drawn a lot of criticism from people in the medical fraternity, some of whom have said it is ‘irresponsible’.
On March 22, US President Donald Trump advocated the use a cocktail of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin to treat coronavirus. However, despite both President Trump and the Indian government (which approved its usage a week later) endorsing it, there is no concrete scientific proof to back the use of the drugs. A New York times report, quoting Dr Anthony S Fauci, an infectious disease expert, said that there is only anecdotal proof that hydroxychloroquine can be used to treat coronavirus. However, two people who tested positive for COVID-19 used President Trump’s recommended treatment and have said that it ‘saved their lives.’
The World Health Organisation had originally decided to rule out hydroxychloroquine during its trial, but had a change of heart after several nations began advocating it. Many studies on the drug have said that the drug does have some activity against COVID-19, but the high doses could cause ‘serious toxicities in the body.’
One of the side effects of high doses of the drug is a condition called retinal toxicity. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, retinal toxicity form hydroxychloroquine is rare, but even if the medication is discontinued, vision loss may be irreversible and continue to progress.
Early literature in medical textbooks has, however, also shown that hydroxychloroquine can be treated as an anti-viral. However, self-medicating yourself with the drug could have consequences, and it needs to be supplied only with a doctor's prescription.