The anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which the U.S. President Donald Trump says he has been taking and has urged others to use, was tied to an increased risk of death in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, a large study published on Friday showed.
In the study that looked at more than 96,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel Coronavirus, those treated with hydroxychloroquine or the related chloroquine had higher risk of death and heart rhythm problems than patients who were not given the medicines.
The study, published in the Lancet medical journal, showed no benefit for Coronavirus patients taking the drugs. Demand for the decades-old hydroxychloroquine has surged as Trump repeatedly promoted its use against the Coronavirus, urging people to try it. “What have you got to lose?” he asked.
Trump said this week he has been taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative medicine despite a lack of scientific evidence. The Lancet study authors, however, suggested that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine should not be used to treat COVID-19 outside of clinical trials until studies confirm their safety and efficacy in such patients.
There is a frantic search for drugs to treat COVID-19 at the same time that multiple research teams pursue a safe and effective vaccine to combat a pathogen that has killed more than 335,000 people worldwide and sickened millions more.
In another development, the World Health Organization (WHO) has commended Madagascar’s fight against COVID-19. In a phone call, the head of the UN’s WHO commended Madagascar’s efforts against the coronavirus pandemic, according to the nation’s president.
Late Wednesday, President Andry Rajoelina took to Twitter to say he had a successful talk with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and that the WHO would sign a confidentiality clause on the formulation of Covid Organics (CVO), the herbal beverage Rajoelina claims could prevent or cure the virus, and will support clinical observations in Africa.
His comments came a few days after WHO’s Africa head said they are in touch with Madagascar over CVO.
”We have offered to support the design of a study to look into this product,” Matshidiso Moeti said.
The Indian Ocean nation has confirmed 371 COVID-19 cases, with two deaths and 131 recoveries, according to data compiled by the US’ John Hopkins University.
Madagascar has sent CVO to several African countries including Comoros, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Niger, Tanzania, Nigeria, Senegal, and Chad.
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