World Health Organization revokes ban on clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus treatment

ATHENS An aerial view shows the opening night of a drive-in festival on Wednesday as Greece eases lockdown measures.—AFP

ATHENS An aerial view shows the opening night of a drive-in festival on Wednesday as Greece eases lockdown measures.—AFP

The journal has said it stands by the conclusions of the study.

A much-anticipated study, co-authored by Canadian researchers, has found that hydroxychloroquine - a drug much-touted by U.S. President Donald Trump - was not effective in fighting COVID-19 in a trial this spring.

Of those who were given HCQ, 49 developed COVID-19 or linked symptoms such as fever or cough.

"That can only be done through well conducted randomized trials", she said.

Two hospitalizations occurred, one in each group, and there were no arrhythmias or deaths reported.

The statement released by NEJM specifically referred to the first study to use the database, titled "Cardiovascular Disease, Drug Therapy, and Mortality in Covid-19".

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The WHO's about-face came after almost 150 doctors signed a letter to the Lancet outlining concerns about the study's conclusions.

"We are issuing an Expression of Concern to alert readers to the fact that serious scientific questions have been brought to our attention".

The WHO said hydroxychloroquine trials would restart after a safety review found there was no reason to modify the trial.

This trial launched within nine days of beginning the project through the work of a team of University of Minnesota infectious disease physicians from the Medical School - Drs. We just don't know, Raffat noted. "That's why these studies are needed, and now they've been slightly waylaid by all of this". "Now the author's replies need to come and if they have all the evidence supported, then the study will stand, otherwise this paper will have to be retracted", he said.

Despite the fact that there are no therapeutic or preventive measures for the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States, prescriptions of these drugs are nine times greater than in the last several years.

Hydroxychloroquine has been shown in laboratory experiments earlier this year to be able to block the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, but this effect has not been replicated in rigorous trials in people. The database, compiled by Chicago company Surgisphere Corp., was also used in an observational study of almost 100,000 patients published in Lancet that linked the malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to a higher risk of death in hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

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Here again, though, the waters have been muddied.

The high-profile study found almost 12 percent of subjects given the malaria drug developed symptoms compatible with COVID-19 compared with 14 percent who got a placebo. "It's not a large study but it extends the spectrum from the most severely ill patients to mildly ill and now preventive".

He added, however, that decisions to halt clinical trials on the basis of an observational study were "completely unjustified".

There are some big caveats: The study enrolled people through the internet and social media, relying on them to report their own symptoms rather than having them tracked in a formal way by doctors.

"We hope that the ongoing trials will continue until we have definitive answers", said Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO's chief scientist, according to Politico.

Those studies are yet to resume.

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As the race for Covid-19 treatment rages on, researchers have been striving to get that magic bullet that is easily available and affordable to patients.

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