President Donald Trump has said the anti-malarial drug chloroquine should be given to coronavirus patients after early indications that it had helped cure and reduce the average hospitalization times of Covid-19 patients during a recent trial.
Pres. Trump touts chloroquine, an old malaria drug, that doctors say may help treat novel coronavirus, claims it will be available "almost immediately."
— ABC News (@ABC) March 19, 2020
Whilst Elon Musk and various Silicon Valley investors also encouraged further investigation, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urged caution, dismissing claims by the president that it had already approved the drug for use on coronavirus patients.
The FDA did however confirm that it is expediting thorough testing to determine if the drug can “treat patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 to potentially reduce the duration of symptoms, as well as viral shedding, which can help prevent the spread of disease.”
Pharmaceutical giant Bayer announced it was donating 3 million of the tablets, sold under the name Resochin, to the US government following the president’s remarks, similarly expressing hope that the drug might prove effective.
“New data from initial preclinical and evolving clinical research conducted in China, while limited, shows potential for the use of Resochin in treating patients with COVID-19 infection,” Bayer said in a statement.
When asked about the drug in February, head of clinical care for the World Health Organization Janet Diaz said “there is no proof that that (chloroquine) is an effective treatment at this time.”
The renewed hope being placed in the drug is based on studies conducted in both China and France, where data suggests that choloroquine and a milder derivative called hydroxychloroquine, have been effective in treating patients.
The studies however have not been peer-reviewed, and the drug is yet to undergo a large-scale randomized control trial.
The French study showed that after six days of taking hydroxychloroquine, the virus had disappeared in 18 out of 24 patients.
The US has had over 14,250 confirmed cases of the virus, with 217 deaths reported and 121 recoveries so far.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 17, 2020