The drug Hydroxychloroquine, which has been around for 70 years as a treatment for malaria, seems to be gaining traction as a treatment for COVID-19 caused by coronavirus. Chinese medical authorities claim to have found the drug to be effective in dealing with the symptoms of COVID-19, and have shared their findings with other countries. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it is working with government and academic groups in the investigation of Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the symptoms of mild-to-moderate COVID-19, as well as its efficacy in viral shedding, which can help prevent the spread of disease. Contrary to President Donald Trump's comments during a briefing on coronavirus on Thursday, that Hydroxychloroquine had be given the green light, it has yet to be approved by the FDA as a reliable treatment for COVID-19 because studies are still ongoing. In response to these developments, German pharmaceutical company Bayer announced that it was donating 3 million Hydroxychloroquine tablets sold under the name Resochin, to the US government. In France, Didier Raoult, director of a university hospital institute in the city of Marseille, said that he had conducted a clinical trial in which he treated 25 COVID-19 patients with Hydroxychloroquine. He said that after six days, only 25 per cent of patients who took this drug still had the virus in their body. The outcome was in contrast with 90 per cent of those who had not taken Hydroxychloroquine and continued to carry COVID-19.
Like Bayer in Germany, French pharmaceutical company, Sanofi also offered to donate millions of Hydroxychloroquine sold under the name Plaquenil, to assist the testing programme in Marseille, as the French government’s spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye described the results as promising and pledged to expand clinical trials. Hydroxychloroquine is a well known inexpensive drug that has been available and used for decades, which can be cheaply and quickly produced in large quantities. The drug is usually suggested as an answer to viral infections maybe because it alters the ability of the virus to bind to the outside of a host cell in the first place, which is an essential first step for entry, according to Robin May, a professor of infectious disease at Birmingham University. A note of caution on Hydroxychloroquine is that it does not work well with other medicines that may be necessary for patients with pre-existing health problems. Moreover, the drug can be fatal if incorrectly dosed.
Despite these concerns, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research has stated that if there is sufficient evidence of Hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness, then it could be added to the list of drugs used in Europe’s large-scale clinical trials.