World Health Organization suspends clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine amid safety concerns

World Health Organization suspends clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine amid safety concerns

The WHO says that the remaining trials are continuing within the worldwide initiative called "Solidarity".

In his announcement, the World Health Organization head noted that the suspension related to the use of the drug in COVID-19 patients, not other approved uses, such as for malaria or lupus.

The results with remdesivir are an update from the 1,063-patient ACCT-1 trial that catapulted remdesivir to the forefront of drug candidates to treat COVID-19, and underpinned emergency use authorisation in the US.

Dr Tedros emphasised that the concern relates specifically to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19 patients.

The authors of the study reported that among patients receiving the drug, when used alone or with a macrolide, they estimated a higher mortality rate.

The World Health Organization then said on Monday that it had temporarily paused its hydroxychloroquine trials while safety data is reviewed.

But Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, who was the index case of COVID-19 in his state, had told journalists early this month that he was administered with chloroquine, zithromax, and Vitamin C during his successful treatment for the disease.

Among all the drugs that have the potential to be repurposed for possible use to combat coronavirus, the most talked about is hydroxychloroquine - a drug that is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and is considered better than its older version chloroquine, used in the treatment of malaria. Dr Tedros stressed that the drug is still considered safe for the treatment of malaria and autoimmune diseases for which it was developed.

'In keeping with the generic, flexible trial design, we will continue to evaluate other treatments for Covid-19-like-illness in primary care. The large-scale observational analysis encompassed almost 100,000 subjects, finding the drug treatment potentially increases risk of mortality and cardiovascular events.

The study is of course not the final word on hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19. "But there is no benefit of this drug for Covid patients".

"You'd be surprised at how many people are taking it - and especially the frontline workers, before you catch it - the frontline workers, many, many are taking it", he said during a press conference. Specifically, the death rates for patients taking hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were 18% & 16.4% respectively, compared to 9% for patients within the control group.

Meanwhile, Belgium's institute for health said it is advising against the use of hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19 patients after global studies suggested it is ineffective.

Risks associated with hydroxychloroquine, included abnormal heartbeats, which could lead to heart attacks according to the Lancet.

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