ICMR revises guidelines, allows use of HCQ among healthcare workers in COVID-19 containment zones
HCQ can now be administered to all healthcare workers in containment zones; healthcare workers in non-COVID hospitals
File Photo: Reuters
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Saturday released a series of new guidelines for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak, revising its earlier protocols regarding the usage of the hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) drug as a preventive medication for healthcare and other front line workers deployed in non-COVID and COVID areas, respectively.
According to the new set of guidelines, HCQ can be administered to all healthcare workers in containment zones; healthcare workers in non-COVID hospitals; the front-line workers; for police, security forces working in containment areas and household contacts of confirmed cases.
The review team comprised professionals from top medical facilities in the country such as AIIMS, ICMR, NCDC, NDMA, and WHO. It also included experts from central government hospitals under the chairmanship of the DGHS.
The new guidelines provide strict instructions regarding the following:
- The drug has to be given under strict medical supervision with informed consent.
- The drug has to be given only on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner.
- Advised to consult with a physician for any adverse event or potential drug interaction before initiation of medication. The contraindications mentioned in the recommendations should strictly be followed.
- Health care workers and other frontline workers on HCQ should be advised to use PPE. Front line workers should use PPEs in accordance with the guidelines issued by this Ministry or by their respective organization.
- They should be advised to consult their physician (within their hospital/surveillance team/security organization) for any adverse event or potential drug interaction before initiation of medication. The prophylactic use of HCQ to be coupled with the pharmacovigilance for adverse drug reactions through self-reporting using the Pharmacovigilance Program of India (PvPI) helpline/app.
- If anyone becomes symptomatic while on prophylaxis, he/she should immediately contact the health facility, get tested as per national guidelines, and follow the standard treatment protocol. Apart from the symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, breathing difficulty), if the person on chemoprophylaxis develops any other symptoms, he should immediately seek medical treatment from the prescribing medical practitioner.
- All asymptomatic contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases should remain in home quarantine as per the National guidelines, even if they are on prophylactic therapy.
- Simultaneously, proof of concept and pharmacokinetics studies should be continued/ taken up expeditiously. Findings from these studies and other new evidence will guide any change further in the recommendation.
- They should follow all prescribed public health measures such as frequent washing of hands, respiratory etiquettes, keeping a distance of minimum 1 meter, and use of Personal Protective Gear (wherever applicable).
However, the advisory cautioned that the intake of the medicine should not instill a sense of false security.