(Waqar Hussain, )

Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ)is a drug primarily used to prevent or treat malaria. It is also employed to treat rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and porphyria cutanea tarda. Now after the invasion of novel coronavirus, physicians started using it; employing the experience of outbreak of MERS in 2012, when scientists conducted hit and trial method on number of drugs and got to know that chloroquine had the ability to block MERS infection; So, keeping in view that experience, the physicians once again used chloroquine to treat new version; COVID 19 but without any tangible scientific evidence. The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat COVID-19 at a pinch. The drug was hyped by President Trump as a “game changer” for COVID-19; that drew worldwide attention. Now, HCQ is under random studies in many countries; with promising result.


Chinese scientists gave hydroxychloroquine to coronavirus patients of COVID-19 in Renmin Hospital, Wuhan. The results showed that the 31 patients who received the drug, showed a lessening of their symptoms one day earlier than patients in the control group. In addition, pneumonia symptoms improved in 25 of the 31 patients contrasted with 17 of 31 in the control group.


French scientists conducted study on 36 patients of COVID-19 by using hydroxychloroquine along with an antibiotic and found that all the patients recovered within 6 days; showing 100% result. They also organized a second trial on 80 patients. It showed clinical improvement in all cases except two (one man aged 80 and the other 74. Both apparently had some preexisting health issues).


Dr. Vladimir Zelenko conducted trial on 699 COVID-19 cases, with 100% success rate, using Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate, Zinc and azithromycin (Z-Pak); antibiotic added to handle secondary infection which occurred when it hit the lungs. Dr Zelenko is now recommending to follow his finding to hit the virus hard and early.

Dr. William Grace, an oncologist, has been using hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic in Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. He claimed that 100 COVID 19 patients were treated successfully. He disclosed in Fox News interview.


There was yet another study done by the NIH in vitro using hydroxychloroquine. They found it was a potent killer of the coronavirus. There was an additional study by the NIH using zinc showing a decrease in morbidity relating to lower respiratory tract infections.



Dr. William Grace said, it works in two ways. “As you know, the death rate goes up as the age goes up. And what I think is that the more mature your immune response, the more likely you are to have what we call a cytokine storm, which means that people with viral pneumonia die because their lungs fill up with fluids largely from an immune response. And this drug works not only inhibiting virus replication but also inhibits the immune response.”


Dr. Eric Berg disclosed that hydroxyquine allow zinc to penetrate the cell membrane and zinc disrupts the viral machinery to stops reproduction of virus.30Zn does the killing but HCQ open the door to allow zinc to penetrate inside the cell.


It has been suggested that the chloroquines can change the acidity at the surface of the cell, thereby preventing the virus from infecting it.

Its antiviral property is written HARRISON'S PRINCIPLES OF INTERNAL MEDICINE, Edition 10, page 477, published in 1983. It reads as: "Viruses: Certain viruses that are surrounded by a lipid envelope bind to the plasma membrane of target cells by attaching to specific proteins on the cell surface. These viruses are then internalized by receptor-mediated endocytosis and delivered to lysosomes. At acid pH the membrane surrounding the virus fuses with the membrane of the lysosome, allowing the nucleic acid of the virus to cross the lysosomal membrane and enter the cytoplasm where the virus replicates. Infection of tissue culture cells by these viruses (such as Semliki Forest virus, vesicular stomatitis virus, and certain strains of influenza virus) can be prevented by chloroquine, an agent that blocks the function of lysosomes. Chloroquine is a weak base that diffuses into lysosomes and becomes protonated, raising the pH and the ionic strength of the lysosomes. When the pH rises, the lysosomal enzymes fail to function. Virus that require acid pH to fuse with cell membrane can no longer do so in the presence of chloroquine, and the cells are protected from infection......."


The future study will be conducted by the Henry Ford Health System after seeking 3,000 volunteers from health workers. Depending on response, the researchers aim to begin study next week. The researcher head, Dr. William W. O’Neil said, in a press release, that the goal is to seek a more definitive scientific answer to the question of whether or not hydroxychloroquine might work as a preventative medicine to help protect medical front-line workers with greater risk exposure from contracting the coronavirus.

HCQ has not been evaluated in controlled studies; it is imminent to know that it has numerous mild, moderate and even deadly side effects. Pure scientific approach doesn’t allow to take a drug that has not been proven safe and effective for a disease for which it is not approved. There are just so many issues that can arise, from side effects to serious toxicity and death due to possible interactions with other medications and other underlying health conditions. At present scientists are trapped between Scylla and Charybdis; administering HCQ may lead to drastic side effect and not giving may end up with sever condition of COVID patient.

However, Scientists are inching near to find the exact mode of action of chloroquine and its suitability to treat COVID19 and sooner the gape among the support group and the opposed group of HCQ will bridge out.

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