WHO says that they are temporarily halting the use of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug from coronavirus treatment. People taking hydroxychloroquine were at higher risk of death and heart problems, there would be a temporary pause on the hydroxychloroquine arm of its global clinical trial.
“The executive group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the solidarity trial while the safety data is reviewed by the data safety monitoring board,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press meeting.
Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial drug that President Donald Trump said he used to fight against COVID-19.
Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are the drugs approved for treating lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and malaria. There is no data or scientific proof that found them safe or effective for preventing or treating COVID-19. The US Food and Drugs Administration has already warned the usage of these drugs and they cautioned that it should not be used outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to the risk of heart rate problems.
Despite FDA warnings, President Donald Trump said that he is taking anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine. He also avoided many other steps recommended by public health experts such as wearing masks. His Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller has tested positive for coronavirus on May 8. Trump also received COVID tests several times and has shown negative results. The President shows this as a shred of evidence that hydroxychloroquine is effective against coronavirus. Trump also criticized WHO for the way they handling this pandemic. He has temporarily frozen US funding to the WHO and threatened to make it permanent.
Do Anti-malarial Drugs help Patients to Recover?
Hydroxychloroquine has been licensed by the US in the 1950s and is an essential medicine as per WHO’s list. Even though numerous trials had done, none of them proven that these drugs help patients to recover from COVID-19.
Other treatments in the WHO’s solidarity trial, including the experimental drug and an HIV combination therapy, are still being pursued. The US National Institutes of Health is also conducting trials to prove that these drugs can prevent COVID deaths.
Now the executive group behind the WHO’s global SOLIDARITY trial met on Saturday and decided to conduct a comprehensive review of all available data on hydroxychloroquine and suspend its use in the trial.
Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, which are normally taken to treat malaria, have no scientific ground or evidence to treat against COVID-19.
Researchers examining data from around 15,000 COVID-19 patients found that, these drugs don’t do any good to the patients and increase the risk of heart disease complications. They also determined that about one in 11 patients who hadn’t been treated with either chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine died in hospital, compared to death rates of about one in six for those who took the drugs. But, still both the drugs are worth studying because of its anti-viral effects. Therefore before reaching any conclusion, randomized clinical trials are required. Until those trials, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine should not be used to treat COVID-19 patients. This doesn’t restrict you from taking these drugs if they are prescribed for approved conditions like malaria or rheumatoid arthritis.