February 26, 2021

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WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine as Covid-19 treatment over safety concerns

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has suspended the trials of hydroxychloroquine as COVID-19 treatment citing safety concerns. The decision was announced by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “The executive group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity trial while the safety data is reviewed by the data safety monitoring board. The other arms of the trial are continuing,” Tedros told an online briefing.

According to a large observational study, treatment for COVID-19 with the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, either with or without the antibiotic azithromycin, offers no benefit for COVID-19 patients. The research, recently published in the journal The Lancet, analysed data from nearly 15,000 patients with COVID-19 who received chloroquine or its analogue hydroxychloroquine, taken with or without the antibiotics azithromycin or clarithromycin, and 81,000 controls.

Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director WHO, earlier said, “Every sovereign nation with effective regulatory authorities can advise citizens on the use of any drug… Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are already licensed products. But they have not as yet been found to be effective in COVID-19 or in prophylaxis… there are warnings by many authorities on potential side effects. Many countries have limited it to clinical trials under the supervision of clinicians in hospital settings. However it is for each national authority to weigh and assess the evidence.”

The derivative of the antimalarial drug chloroquine, HCQ is used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. It is also used for the prevention of malaria and its treatment.