As part of its ongoing strategy to contain the spread of Covid-19 following lockdown relaxations, the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) is administering antimalarial drug — hydroxychloroquine sulphate (HCQS) — to people in vulnerable areas, especially slums and clustered neighbourhoods in the city. The VMC has administered HCQs to nearly 2 lakh people so far and officials say the results were favourable.
The civic body that has adopted a three-phase approach to the fight against the pandemic, is in its Phase 2 from May 11 to May 31, and started administering HCQs in slum and clustered pockets since Sunday. It aims to cover as many residents as possible who do not have hypertension as a comorbid condition and could be in vulnerable surroundings. The doses will be administered for a period of seven weeks, officer on special duty, Vinod Rao, told this newspaper.
“The first dose is of 400mg twice a day and thereafter a weekly dose of 200mg twice a day, under supervision of the local area health officers. So far, we have administered the first doses to over 1.75 lakh people who have willingly taken it. There is no coercion. Our teams visit the vulnerable pockets and try to explain to them how the dose can help mitigate risks. If they agree, they are given the medicine,” said VMC Medical Officer, Devesh Patel.
Earlier, as per ICMR guidelines, the VMC administered HCQs to frontline warriors, including medical staff, policemen, fire officials and sanitation workers in the city, as well as close contacts of known positive cases. Rao said, “The definition of ‘close contacts’ has been widened now to include such clustered areas where positive cases have emerged and all those living in the close vicinity are seen as close contacts. We are also moving on to vulnerable areas of the orange and yellow zones…”
Rao explained that the core medical team has observed that administering HCQs has reduced the number of deaths that initially occurred within hours after the person reported Covid-19 symptoms.
Although there were concerns about associated fatal cardiac toxicity and adverse drug reactions with HCQs, medical experts of the VMC panel are said to have “unanimously” recommended its use. “We have taken this decision based on the advise of our task force… So far, the use of HCQ in India has suggested that the population in the country has resistance to the side-effects of the drug reported in other parts of the globe such as US and Europe. Although it cannot prevent Covid-19, it can definitely help in preventing complications,” Rao said.
The VMC has also intensified the distribution of preventive homeopathy and ayurvedic medicines in slum areas and clustered neighbourhoods.
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