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India: India uses controversial malaria drug against corona

The Indian Council for Medical Research recommends taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to prevent infection with the coronavirus. Healthcare workers are now expected to take the drug for several weeks under medical supervision. It caused "no harm" and "could perhaps be of benefit," said the Council's General Director, Balram Bhargava, in explaining the procedure.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned against taking hydroxychloroquine on Monday. The organization said it had stopped all clinical investigations after a study found evidence of a higher mortality rate from treatment with the drug.

The study by a team of researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston and the University Hospital Zurich evaluated the data from 96,000 patients in hundreds of hospitals worldwide. Their result is that hydroxychloroquine and the related active ingredient chloroquine show no benefit in patients with the lung disease Covid-19. Rather, it was found that taking the drug tended to lead to an increased risk of death. The drug also causes serious side effects, such as cardiac arrhythmias.

Although the one in the journal The Lancet The study that appears is not the first to point out the dangers of the anti-malarial drug, several politicians put their trust in hydroxychloroquine. US President Donald Trump praised the drug and announced that he was taking it to prevent infection with the corona virus. On Sunday, however, he said that he had stopped taking it. Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro also recommended the drug several times.

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70 percent of the world's hydroxychloroquine stocks are produced in India. The coronavirus pandemic is not yet in sight in the country. As the Ministry of Health announced, 6,387 people were recently infected with the pathogen within 24 hours - another record. This means that a total of 151,767 infections are now known in the country with around 1.3 billion inhabitants. The number of deaths recently rose by 170 to 4,337. A total of 64,426 sick people have now recovered, the authorities said. Especially in the poorer parts of the country, a high number of new infections are reported again and again.

The Indian government eased exit restrictions this month. Shops are also allowed to reopen and train and flight connections have been partially resumed. Schools, universities, hotels and restaurants are still closed.