Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 8
As Covid cases topped 5,274 with 149 deaths on Wednesday, the government assured that there is ample domestic stockpile of the game-changing anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), which it has agreed to export to the US and Brazil.
The Health Ministry has asked HCQ makers to ramp up monthly production six times and pharmaceutical firms have pledged action.
“Not only today there will be no shortage of hydroxychloroquine as and when needed. The whole situation is being monitored at the highest level. Domestic production and supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients needed to produce the drug have been factored in. HCQ availability will be ensured as per our need today and tomorrow,” Health Ministry spokesperson Lav Agarwal said. The ministry’s assurance came as 853 additional Covid cases and 32 more deaths were reported in a single day.
India manufactures around 20 crore HCQ tablets of 200 mg each every month and local consumption averages 2.40 crore tablets a year. India accounts for 70 per cent of all HCQ manufacturing globally and is a leading exporter. The drug has become critical to fight against Covid-19 with proven efficacy in reducing the viral load.
The ICMR reiterated today that they have permitted the use of HCQ only for preventive purposes in two high-risk categories of people — doctors in care of Covid patients and home contacts of patients. The drug is to be sold solely on medical prescription.
The government, meanwhile, advised states to undertake extensive surveillance and contact tracing in their zones apart from building Covid-related healthcare infrastructure as proposed in the new official guidance released yesterday.
The next two focus areas of the government are – boosting hospital preparedness and testing.
With antibody test kits arriving from Singapore to enable blood sample tests of people with influenza like illness in disease clusters, India hopes to ramp up testing scopes.
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