The Grapevine

WHO Halts Human Testing Of Hydroxychloroquine For COVID-19

It appears that until a proven working COVID-19 vaccine comes out, there remains no cure for the dreaded disease. Malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was undergoing trials as one of those possible cures, a drug that even United States President Donald Trump admitted he was taking. However, studies show that the said drug caused more risk than good, forcing the World Health Organization (WHO) to temporarily put the trials on hold.

According to a study published by the Lancet, the drug was linked to even higher death rates. Scientists linked to the drug from six continents found higher death rates under the massive study called the Solidarity Trial.

“The executive group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity study… while the safety data is reviewed,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said during a news conference Monday. “The other arms of the trial are continuing.”

The study reviewed data from 96,000 patients and found that hydroxychloroquine increased the risk of patients dying from the coronavirus. Worse, the drug also raised the risk of people who could get heart problems.

To date, the drug has been the one known to many particularly when Trump revealed that he was taking it for his protection. The U.S. president claimed that he took the drug at least a dozen times and branded the malaria drug as a game-changer. Claiming that he was likely finishing his regimen, the United States leader said he had already stopped taking the drug.

There are roughly 3,500 patients from 17 countries who have enrolled with the WHO in the Solidarity Trials to develop a cure for COVID-19. Patients are randomly selected to be treated with hydroxychloroquine alongside three other experimental drugs. For now, only the hydroxychloroquine has been placed on pause. WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan revealed that they will be deliberating on whether hydroxychloroquine testing will resume or not in the coming weeks.

Despite the recommendation of WHO, one country plans to continue hydroxychloroquine as a treatment in Brazil. In a report from AFP, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro also endorsed the benefits of taking the malaria drug alongside another related drug, chloroquine.

“We’re remaining calm and there will be no change,” Health Ministry Official Mayra Pinheiro said in a news conference.

Brazil has nearly 375,000 cases as of this writing. The country has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases with roughly 23,000 deaths. More than 153,000 people have recovered from the coronavirus on their end.

COVID-19 vaccine Researchers at Dalhousie University in Canada will run the clinical trials for the country's first potential COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with Chinese vaccine maker CanSino Biologics. Pixabay

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