UK Scientists Say Hydroxychloroquine is Being ‘Discarded Prematurely’

Many scientists in the United Kingdom are of the opinion that the drug hydroxychloroquine might prove beneficial in preventing coronavirus infections, if not treating them. Among these scientists many also claim that even though drug provides benefits, a trial may not be able to show that the drug is effective as touted by US President Donald Trump.

The Oxford University trial of the drug to check its effectiveness against COVID-19 in nearly 40,000 healthcare workers around the world is ongoing. The trial scientists are hoping that even though the drug did not show any effectives in treatment, it may prevent infections in these individuals.

The large-scale, double-blind randomized study right now is one of the few trials that are currently working.

“We know now that it doesn’t work in treatment of hospitalized patients. But it’s still is a medicine that may prove beneficial in preventing Covid-19.” said Professor Nick White, one of the Oxford study’s investigators.

A while ago, after a now discredited paper appeared in the Lancet saying that the drug can cause serious hearth issues, the UK medicines regulatory body MHRA halted all hydroxychloroquine trials.

These studies resumed in late June but the there is now a shortage of study subjects as many are unwilling to participate. Many hospital trusts have even pulled out of the Oxford trial as well.

The drug along with another version called chloroquine has been used to treat malaria for years and right now there is no proof that it works against COVID-19.

Despite being hailed by many people like Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro as a miraculous medication, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned against misuse of the drug because of serious side-effects.

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci also said on Wednesday that all the “valid” scientific data shows malaria drug hydroxychloroquine isn’t effective in treating the coronavirus, contradicting President Donald Trump’s opinion of the drug.

“You look at the scientific data and the evidence. And the scientific data … on trials that are valid, that were randomized and controlled in the proper way, all of those trials show consistently that hydroxychloroquine is not effective in the treatment of coronavirus disease or Covid-19,” said Fauci during an interview.

“I don’t think there’s been a more politicized and controversial medicine than hydroxychloroquine,” says Prof White.

People who have been posting claims on social media that the drug works, have also had their posts taken down by social media platforms.

The researchers working on the Oxford NHS trial are hoping that this trial helps frontline workers avoid getting infected with the novel coronavirus.

Previous Conflicting Evidence

There has been conflicting evidence on the subject till date. The evidence against the drug also led the United States Food and Drug Administration to revoke emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19.

In June, another team of scientists from Oxford University announced that hydroxychloroquine provides no benefit in patients hospitalized with COVID-19. In light of these findings they officially stopped the hydroxychloroquine arm of the RECOVERY trial and stopped enrolling patients.

The hydroxychloroquine trial in New York also concluded that the patients taking hydroxychloroquine were just as likely to need a ventilator and to die, then the ones not getting the drug, same as the evidence coming out of China.

The National Institutes of Health trial testing efficacy of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients was one of them. The study showed that the drug neither harmed the participants nor did it provide any clinical benefits.

Swiss pharmaceutical company, Novartis also halted its trial of hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19 because they could not find volunteers to enroll in the study in light of these recent revelations.  They had planned to enroll at least 400 patients in the trial but could only find a handful which was not enough for conclusive results.

That’s not all. Another recent study has found favorable results as well. The findings were highly analyzed and peer reviewed.

The study found that the use of hydroxychloroquine by COVID-19 patients is linked to lower death rates. The study was conducted by Michigan’s Henry Ford Health System and concluded that hydroxychloroquine “significantly” lowered the mortality rate among COVID-19 patients.

In patients who received the drug, the death rate was 13 percent as compared to people who were not given the drug with death rate of 26.4 percent.

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