Global COVID-19 trial of hydroxychloroquine, which Trump takes, begins

Grant Boone
May 22, 2020

Deemed to be the largest multinational interventional clinical study into the prevention of COVID-19, the trial would begin Thursday.

Food and Drug Administration has previously warned hydroxychloroquine could cause serious heart problems while the World Health Organization (WHO) alerted against self-medicating as the study in the United Kingdom involving front line health workers was carried out in a controlled environment.

Workers in Britain will be administered either hydroxychloroquine or a placebo for three months, while in Asia, participants will be given chloroquine or a placebo. In each area, half the participants will get the drug and half will receive a placebo.

"Based on the known pharmacology of hydroxychloroquine, coupled with the emerging knowledge surrounding SARS-CoV-2 [novel coronavirus] viral replication and COVID-19 pathophysiology, we were very keen to test the effectiveness of this molecule in a preventative, rather than late-stage treatment setting", said Dr Anthony Grosso, Vice President and Head of Scientific Affairs, Accord Europe, Middle East and North Africa.

US President Donald Trump was criticised this week after he said he had been taking hydroxychloroquine, despite warnings it might be unsafe.

The team aims to deliver results by the end of 2020.

"We are looking at this with great care and examining all of the evidence that is out there", Security Minister James Brokenshire told Sky News.

"My physician has not recommended that but I wouldn't hesitate to take the counsel of my doctor".

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"I think the regimen finishes in a day or two".

"I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group", added Nancy Pelosi, Schumer's 80-year-old counterpart in the House of Representatives - before going on to suggest the President should be extra cautious because he is "morbidly obese".

"A lot of good things have come out about the hydroxychloroquine".

"I think it's worth it as a line of defense and I'll stay on it for a little while longer", Trump said at the meeting.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro neatly summed up how politics had hijacked the debate over using malaria drugs against the new coronavirus: "Right-wingers take chloroquine".

"Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19", the FDA said in a statement. "Worse than defeat is the shame of never having fought at all".

Some studies in France and elsewhere have shown positive results for the use of HCQ and several studies are underway in the US, India and elsewhere.

The Brazilian health ministry acknowledged that "there are still no meta-analyses of randomized, controlled, blind, large-scale clinical trials of these medications in the treatment of Covid-19". "And we need to give them that right, even if the number of studies is still scarce", health ministry official Mayra Pinheiro told a news conference.

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