As the world grapples with the coronavirus, medical experts around the world are working on a vaccine to help stem the pandemic.
Hydroxychloroquine is one of the few available drugs that experts were confident that would show better symptoms and recovery in clinical trials for patients with COVID-19.
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Professor Sunit K Singh, molecular immunology & virology and head of the molecular biology unit at Banaras Hindu University’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Varanasi, India said,
The combination therapy of azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine was thought to be better over the monotherapy of hydroxychloroquine to control the mixed infection of virus and bacteria.
Currently, the drug also known as Plaquenil is used for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It differs from chloroquine phosphate, another medicine being used for malaria which is also being looked at to treat the COVID-19. Both drugs have been around for years but have their own side effects.
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Dr. Singh said, “During any outbreaks of epidemic and pandemic levels, there is hardly any time left for new drug development and clinical trials.” New research undertaken by a team in China at the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center involved 30 patients in the hospital with COVID-19 between February 6-25.
Half of them were selected at random and were given 400mg of hydroxychloroquine daily for 5 days aside from the usual care while the others in the control group received normal care. As per the findings, there were no lasting effects from hydroxychloroquine but it has potential side effects, and patients’ medical history and existing conditions must be taken into consideration before they received it, Dr Singh said.
Although, it is worth exploring due to the anti-viral effects it has showcased in other researches. A week after a stay in the hospital, 86.7% of patients who were given the drug and 93.3% of patients in the normal care group tested negative.
For half the people that took the drug, they tested negative after 4 days while people in the normal group tested negative after 2 days, which isn’t a big difference. Rendering the study of hydroxychloroquine as a viable option to treat COVID-19 unsuccessful.