A new study has found that patients with rheumatic diseases in Africa and Southeast Asia, the Americas, and Europe, are facing difficulty to secure hydroxychloroquine -- highly vouched drug for coronavirus treatment -- for their treatment due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Patients with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis take antimalarial drugs for the treatment of their disease.

The study's lead author, Emily Sirotich, a doctoral student at McMaster Centre for Transfusion Research in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada said: “Since hydroxychloroquine is an essential treatment for RA and lupus, reported drug shortages of antimalarials became a major concern.”

“The aims of this study were to assess the prevalence and impact of drug shortages during the Covid-19 pandemic, and whether the use of antimalarials in patients with the rheumatic disease was associated with a lower risk of Covid-19 infection,” she added.

According to the American College of Rheumatology, patients who could not access the antimalarial drugs for their treatment due to disruption in supply amidst coronavirus are facing the worst mental and physical health outcomes.

For the study, researchers carried out a survey on 9,393 people. Of those 3,872 were taking antimalarial drugs and 230 said they were unable to continue taking their medications because of a lack of supply at their pharmacy.

The study revealed that antimalarial supply disruption has adversely affected Africa and Southeast Asia: 26.7 per cent of respondents in Africa and 21.4 per cent of respondents in Southeast Asia reported inadequate supplies at local pharmacies.

Patients in the Americas (6.8 per cent) and Europe (2.1 per cent) also reported that they were unable to get the prescribed medicines due to a dearth of supply.

The study found that patients on antimalarials and those who did not take these drugs had similar rates of Covid-19 infection. A total of 28 patients with Covid-19, who were also taking antimalarials, were hospitalized.