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India backs hydroxychloroquine for virus prevention

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India’s top biomedical research body on Tuesday backed the use of the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine as a preventive against coronavirus, after the WHO suspended clinical trials of the drug over safety concerns.

The endorsement from the Indian Council of Medical Research came a week after US President Donald Trump said he was taking the drug as a preventative measure.

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Observational and case control studies in India showed there were “no major side effects” of taking the drug as a prophylactic, ICMR Director-General Balram Bhargava said.

Cases of nausea, vomiting and heart palpitations were noted, he added.

Last week, the ICMR — which is leading the government’s response to the virus — expanded its advisory for the use of hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure.

The body said all healthcare workers in hospitals and some frontline personnel could now take the drug for up to several weeks under strict medical supervision.

“We recommended that for prophylaxis, it should be continued, because there is no harm. Benefit may be there,” Bhargava told reporters.

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Bhargava added that when the ICMR weighed the risks and benefits of the drug, it decided that “we should not deny it to our frontline workers and healthcare workers.”

But he stressed that personal protective gear should still be worn.

The previous ICMR guidelines for hydroxychloroquine stated that only asymptomatic healthcare workers caring for suspected or confirmed patients, or household contacts of confirmed patients, could be given the drug.

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On Monday, the WHO said it was halting testing of the drug as a COVID-19 treatment after studies questioned its safety, including one that found it actually increased the risk of death.

Under India’s clinical guidelines for coronavirus treatment, hydroxychloroquine can be administered, but only to patients “with severe disease and requiring ICU management”.

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India — which accounts for 70 percent of global production of hydroxychloroquine — on Tuesday reported 145,380 cases of the virus including 4,167 deaths.

The country ramped up output of the drug amid increased demand, after Trump pushed for hydroxychloroquine as a potential shield or treatment for the virus.


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Kayleigh McEnany: When Trump said he wanted to ‘cut off’ school funding he meant he wants to increase it

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During the Wednesday White House press briefing, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany argued that President Donald Trump believes that the reason students must return to school regardless of the risk of COVID-19 killing their families, teachers, and administration, is because children need the lunches in schools.

Schools should not follow the Center for Disease Control guidelines because some students depend on those lunches and can't bring food from home, she told the press.

The problem with the claim from the White House, however, is that those are the very programs they tried to cut from the budget.

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Physician can’t figure out why Trump is being ‘triggered’ by the idea of schools opening a windows to avoid COVID in class

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It was announced Wednesday that the White House would prefer schools don't consult the Center for Disease Control when deciding when and how to reopen.

MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace asked Dr. Vin Gupta how schools could possibly open safely, gather indoors, or even eat together in the cafeteria.

"Tthe short answer is 'no,'" said Dr. Gupta. "I do not recommend that at all. I love what Governor Phil Murphy (D-NJ) and Bill de Blasio have said. They've said, indoor dining, we're done with it. Outdoor dining is okay because indoor transmission is 20 times higher in certain cases if you're dining close by -- because we think that that's maybe there's 'airborne transmission.' I hate that term, it's confusing, but small droplets potentially from somebody infected with COVID-19 might persist in the air for hours over long distances."

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WATCH: CNN host temporarily speechless after Ohio sheriff says he won’t be the ‘mask police’

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In a segment on CNN this Wednesday, Brianna Keiler interviewed Sheriff Richard Jones of Butler County, Ohio, grilling him over his refusal to enforce his state's face mask mandate.

Keiler mentioned how asymptomatic coronavirus carriers can still spread the virus, to which Jones replied that the numerous studies and statements from health agencies are too confusing to enforce any one policy.

"I'm not trusting what you say -- I don't know you that well," Jones told Keiler. "Every week they change how you can catch this, how you can't -- first to wear a mask, then not to wear a mask, then it's a certain kind of mask ... people are confused, I'm confused. I wear a mask, but we shouldn't have our government demand that we wear a mask, that we can't work, that the economy's shut down ... when this is all over and the studies come out, there will be more people who have died from not being able to go to a hospital, without being able to get their medication -- this is my opinion."

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