Top Indian Scientist Condemns WHO’s “Knee-Jerk” Move to Suspend Trial of Malaria Drug for COVID-19

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New Delhi (Sputnik): World Health Organisation had suspended trials of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, after the peer-reviewed international general medicinal magazine Lancet published a study, warning about the drug’s safety. WHO however, resumed the trials after several countries, including India questioned the decision.

A top Indian scientist, Sekhar Mande, Director General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research under India’s federal Science and Technology Ministry reproached what he described as the WHO’s “knee-jerk” decision to suspend the trial use of the Malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus infections. 

“They shouldn’t have temporarily suspended (the trial) in haste. Emergency meeting of experts at a short notice would have dismissed the results of The Lancet study in the first read, which most around the world did,” tweeted Mande.

Politely disagree @cspramesh The @WHO action was knee-jerk, they shouldn’t have temporarily suspended in haste. Emergency meeting of experts at a short notice would have dismissed the results of @TheLancet study in their first read, which most around the world did @doctorsoumya

— Shekhar Mande (@shekhar_mande) June 5, 2020

​The Lancet, in the meantime, retracted the study on Thursday (4 June) and said the authors have concluded that they “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources”.

India’s apex biomedical research body, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had also written to the WHO, citing differences in dosage standards between Indian and international trials that could explain the efficacy issues of HCQ in treating COVID-19 patients. “There was no reason to suspend the trial for safety concerns”, said a communication from ICMR to WHO.

India is a major producer of hydroxychloroquine and New Delhi had shipped the drug to over 120 countries since the outbreak of the global pandemic, of which about one third obtained it for free.

COVID-19 hit India on 30 January and since then t,he caseload has been mounting to reach 226,770. Currently, the country has 110,960 active cases, while the viral infection has taken the lives of 6,348 people according to data released by the federal Health Ministry on Friday.

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