Hydroxychloroquine: the Drug Donald Trump Advertised as a Coronavirus Treatment

hydroxychloroquine Coronavirus treatment anti-malarial drug

The debate regarding the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine is in the headlines after US President Donald Trump advertised it’s potential in treating the coronavirus.

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was interrupted by Trump during a news conference when he was asked by a reporter about the hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness in treating coronavirus patients.

The White House has agreed to boost the supply of hydroxychloroquine to areas heavily effected by coronavirus but is Trump citing any reliable or established research?

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Why is Donald Trump pushing for a malaria drug?

Well, he cited small studies in China and France that anti-malaria drug helps treat coronavirus patients. A recent study found that hydroxychloroquine helped speed the recovery of a small number of patients who were mildly or moderately ill but they observes that the evidence is limited. The study solely comprised of 62 patients where only half of the patients were given the hydroxychloroquine.

The authors concluded that more research is needed. This article was posted on medRxiv with limited to no peer review. And this is what the medRxiv website has to say on their website

The US President Donald Trump also cited another small study from France with just few patients that found that anti-malarial drug when used along with other anti-biotics was effective in treating coronavirus.

What Researchers and Medical Experts Say?

Many researchers and health experts have called these small studies as not statistically significant enough to be considered scientific.

Some of these small studies don’t consider the stage of the patients’ illnesses and what they’ve done to get better outside the study. Other experts criticize the studies’ design and lack of information on drug side effects. 

We often see antiviral therapies (that are promising) in the test tube and animal models. But before we give it to patients with confidence, we really need to see the data in humans

Jeffrey Klausner, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the University of California-Los Angeles. 

The medical experts are also concerned about the potential side effects of anti-malarial drug when used alongside other drugs. 

They are afraid that advertising the drug from the highest level such as the White House may encourage people to bypass doctors and use malaria drugs on their own against the coronavirus.  

In Phoenix, a couple in their 60s ingested chloroquine phosphate. This is commonly used to clean fish tanks. The man died and the woman is in critical condition.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has also warned against using untested drugs.

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