New Delhi, January 21 : A study by the doctors of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi reveals that Chloroquine (CQN), when administered as nasal drops, has the potential to prevent COVID-19 infection if administered before the infection is established.
The aim of the study was to explore the safety and efficacy of topical nasal administration of CQN drops in reducing viral load and preventing clinical progression in early COVID-19 infection.
"The present study suggests the potential of topical nasal CQN in the prevention of COVID-19 infection if administered before the infection is established. No significant differences in clinical or virological outcome were, however, demonstrated in patients with mild but established illness," said Dr Alok Thakar, professor at the departments of otorhinolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery at AIIMS.
The study was an exploratory, randomized controlled trial comparing topical administration of CQN drops in the nose with standard symptomatic management in patients with asymptomatic/mild COVID-19. The study received institutional bio-safety clearance and ethical approval and was registered with the Clinical Trial Registry of India.
The study was conducted at a designated COVID-19 treatment facility (NCI-Jhajjar Campus) at the AIIMS. Study recruitment was from April 23 to May 6, 2020, with a sample size of 60 participants and informed written consent was obtained from all participants.
"RT-PCR tests confirmed asymptomatic patients or those with mild COVID-19 illness were included in the trial. Patients were randomized in a 1:1 manner. Control arm (standard supportive treatment, n=30) was compared with intervention arm (n=30) of a standard treatment plus CQN eye drops (0.03 per cent) repurposed as nasal drops administered six times daily (0.5 ml/dose) for 10 days," noted the study, which is now published in the latest issue of Indian Journal of Medical Science.
The findings stated: "Intranasal CQN (0.03 per cent) was noted as safe and well-tolerated. The clinical outcomes were uniformly good in the subset of patients with mild/ asymptomatic infection. The good clinical outcomes in the control group indicated that a large sample size would be required to demonstrate the effect of any intervention in mild COVID-19 on the basis of clinical outcomes alone."
The present trial did not show any in vivo antiviral efficacy of intranasal CQN drops in patients with mild but established illness, it said.