A drug that was developed over 50 years ago to tackle malaria is showing positive signs that it may also help cure COVID-19.
The results are claimed to be even more positive when the drug is combined with antibiotics, according to a new study.
In a press conference held this afternoon (Thursday 19th March), US President Donald Trump announced that the production of the drug has been ‘fast-tracked’ in the United States to treat people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Hydroxychloroquine (sold under the brand name of ‘Plaquenil’) was ascertained to be effective in killing the deadly bug in laboratory experiments, Forbes reported, citing findings published on 9th March in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal.
“We predict that the drug has a good potential to combat the disease,” the study’s authors wrote in a letter published in ‘Cell Discovery’ on Wednesday, according to the report.
French researchers have now also finished a largely successful clinical trial using the drug to treat patients who have caught COVID-19 according to a study published Wednesday.
A total of 36 patients were enrolled in the research which was led by Didier Raoult, an infectious disease expert from l’Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire in Marseille.
The test group was given 600 mg of Plaquenil each day.
The research team found that 50% of the treated group turned from positive to negative for the virus by the third day.
By day number six, that figure was up to 70%.
Of the 20 test patients, six who were treated with both Plaquenil and the antibiotic azithromycin showed effective results. Five tested negative at day three and all six of them tested negative at day six.
“Despite its small sample size, our survey shows that hydroxychloroquine treatment is significantly associated with viral load reduction/disappearance in COVID-19 patients and its effect is reinforced by azithromycin,” the study concluded.
But it may still be some time until any treatment is widely used as more tests have to be carried out.
It is thought that the UK government is assessing the viability of using Hydroxychloroquine to treat patients and has banned companies from exporting the drug in a bid to shore up supplies in the UK, according to the DailyMail.
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