- A recent study showed that the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was not particularly effective in treating coronavirus patients.
- President Trump has been advocating hydroxychloroquine as a cure-all for COVID-19 patients, though a number of medical professionals have urged the public to be cautious pending further studies.
- Additional studies involving hydroxychloroquine are set to begin over the next few weeks.
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President Donald Trump over the past few weeks has been aggressively pushing an anti-malaria drug called hydroxychloroquine as an effective treatment for coronavirus patients. Trump’s optimism surrounding the drug was especially peculiar given some of the reservations expressed by a number of medical professionals, including Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“I think we’ve got to be careful that we don’t make that majestic leap to assume that this is a knockout drug,” Fauci said last week. “We still need to do the kinds of studies that definitively prove whether any intervention, not just this one, any intervention is truly safe and effective.”
In light of that, a new study of hydroxychloroquine on coronavirus patients has not yielded encouraging results. According to a report from the Associated Press, a study involving 368 patients suggests that corona patients who receive the drug do not show signs of improvement.
About 28% who were given hydroxychloroquine plus usual care died, versus 11% of those getting routine care alone. About 22% of those getting the drug plus azithromycin died too, but the difference between that group and usual care was not considered large enough to rule out other factors that could have affected survival.
Hydroxychloroquine made no difference in the need for a breathing machine, either.
It’s worth noting that many doctors and researchers have long been skeptical of positioning the drug as a magical cure-all for the coronavirus because it has been shown to cause heart issues that can quickly lead to cardiac arrest. Though the recent hydroxychloroquine study didn’t make a point to closely observe side effects, researchers did note a “hint that” the drug “might have damaged other organs.”
More stringent testing on the drug’s efficacy with respect to coronavirus patients is planned, which is to say it’s important not to jump to concrete conclusions in either direction. Just this week, for example, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis said it’s planning to conduct a hydroxychloroquine study with 440 coronavirus patients in the United States.
In the meantime, the number of coronavirus cases and deaths has grown considerably over the last few weeks. All told, the U.S. has seen 42,000 corona-related deaths since the pandemic began. The only good news amidst a sea of bad news is that the virus appears to have peaked in some major U.S. cities. Incidentally, Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger recently created a new website called RT.live which shows how fast the coronavirus is spreading or subsiding across each state. Not surprisingly, states that were slow or reluctant to implement stay-at-home orders are seeing a huge influx of coronavirus patients.