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WHO Suspends Hydroxychloroquine Trials for Coronavirus Treatment

Jun 4, 2020 by Kamran Ahmed

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stopped clinical trials of treating coronavirus patients with anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine. The decision came after some studies indicated that the drug might further worsen the patients' health instead of shortening the recovery period.

In a virtual conference last week, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cited a study published in The Lancet, a peer-reviewed general medical journal, saying administering hydroxychloroquine to COVID-19 patients may increase their chances of dying.

Hydroxychloroquine found to be dangerous and not effective for COVID patients

The Lancet clinical trial comprised of 96,000 COVID-19 patients. Around 15,000 of them were administered hydroxychloroquine - or related form chloroquine. The drug was either given alone or coupled with an antibiotic. 

The investigators found that the coronavirus patients who were administered hydroxychloroquine were at higher risk of death in the hospital and experienced severe complications from the COVID patients not administered the drug. 

Many countries mulled over using hydroxychloroquine after it was reported that it helps to shorten the recovery period. They even imported the drug in a massive amount, but scientists are yet to find any evidence that favors its usage against the novel virus. 

As of June 1, more than six million people have contracted COVID-19 worldwide, and nearly 375,000 patients have died of it. Dozens of trials are underway across the globe, and hydroxychloroquine's trials were one of them before most countries halted it after the WHO's warnings.

According to Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO chief scientist, the decision to suspend the drug's use against COVID-19 is a temporary measure.

On the other hand, the WHO's announcement is in contradiction with the US President Donald Trump's statements. The president has repeatedly been saying that the drug is effective and that he has been taking it as well, as confirmed by the White House.

"If you look at the one survey, the only bad survey, they were giving it to people that were in very bad shape," Trump had said while speaking of the studies claiming the drug may prove to be harmful.


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