President Trump announced that chloroquine has been fast-tracked by the FDA for use in coronavirus patients in the United States.
During a Thursday coronavirus press briefing, Trump noted that the drug had been recommended by international teams, and that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a Wednesday night phone call that he wants to immediately deploy it in the state.
While several drugs are currently being tested to treat COVID-19, an inexpensive anti-malaria drug that’s been around for over 70 years has been shown to halt coronavirus in patients who have mild to moderate symptoms.
The drug, chloroquine, was first approved in the US in 1949, and has been widely used as a low-cost method to treat a variety of diseases, including malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. In several studies and through anecdotal evidence, chloroquine appears to significantly limit the replication of COVID-19, particularly when combined with antibiotic azithromycin (Z-Pak).
In a study published Wednesday by French physician-researchers, a total of 36 patients (20 who were treated with chloroqine and 16 controls who were not) revealed that 50% of the treated group turned from positive to negative on the third day – which grew to 70% by the sixth day.
Six test patients were treated with both chloroquine and Z-pak, and all six tested negative for coronavirus on day six.
“Despite its small sample size our survey shows that hydroxychloroquine treatment is significantly associated with viral load reduction/disappearance in COVID-19 patients and its effect is reinforced by azithromycin,” the study concludes.
Both the Dutch CDC and the Italian Society of Infectious and Tropical disease have recommended the use of cloroquine for coronavirus patients, along with doctors from China, South Korea and Belgium – which have added the drug to their treatment guidelines. Meanwhile there are over two dozen clinical trials are currently underway to study the efficacy of the drug.
Australian researchers at the University of Queensland say that a combination of chloroquine and Kaletra led to the recovery of some of the first coronavirus patients in the country.
“If clinical data confirm the biological results, the novel coronavirus-associated disease will have become one of the simplest and cheapest to treat and prevent among infectious respiratory diseases,” wrote a group of French researchers on February 15 in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents