Coronavirus patients are now being given hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as emergency drugs to treat COVID-19 as the Food and Drug Administration approved its use on Saturday, April 3, 2020. However, a small study claims that these drugs do nothing to help in treating patients with coronavirus.
Antimalarial Drugs Used in Treating Coronavirus
Antimalarial drugs are being used as emergency medications to fight COVID-19.
Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are medications primarily used to treat patients with malaria, systemic lupus erythematosus, and rheumatoid arthritis. A trial by Philippe Gautret in Marseille, France was carried out to patients showing mild symptoms of the coronavirus showing promising results. However, because their symptoms were mild, it would have been likely that the patients would be able to recover without any medication.
Other trials, however, showed conflicting results. Such was that of a group led by Jean-Michel Molina, who tested the hydroxychloroquine-azithromycin combination treatment to 11 patients at the Hôpital Saint-Louis in Paris. These researchers found that after five to 6 days of treatment with the combination of drugs, eight out of ten patients still tested positive for COVID-19.
Similarly, a study in China showed similar results supporting Molina's trial. The study reports that there were no changes in the patients' conditions after a week, with or without the use of hydroxychloroquine.
Coronavirus in New York
New York, now being the city with the most cases, is desperate to find a quick cure to help affected patients. About 56 hospitals in New York have received doses of hydroxychloroquine, enough to cover at least 4,000 patients.
Although patients are already receiving antimalarial drugs to combat the disease, NYU Langone Medical School is still operating a random trial with a $9.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. All efforts are made in hopes of finally getting a cure for the pandemic.
Anna Bershteyn, assistant professor with the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone and the study's co-principal investigator states, "Currently, there is no proven way to prevent COVID-19 after being exposed."
She mentions that if hydroxychloroquine proves to protect us from COVID-19, then it could be an essential weapon in our battle against the pandemic. However, if it doesn't, then unnecessary risks should not be taken with drug consumption.
Leave Hydroxychloroquine to Those Who Truly Need It
In hopes of being able to help coronavirus patients, stocks of hydroxychloroquine are now being depleted, leaving many patients with SLE and rheumatoid arthritis in a shortage for their medications.
Aside from giving people false hopes, The Conversation also reports that the medications have dangerous side effects such as fatal heart arrhythmia, vision loss, tinnitus, vomiting, mood changes, skin rashes, and hair loss.
Still No Cure For Coronavirus
Despite the hype these antimalarial medications have been receiving over the past days, they still are not considered as the cure for COVID-19. When asked if these drugs were considered the cure to coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, replies, "The answer is no ... The evidence that you're talking about ... is anecdotal evidence."