The World Health Organization has ceased testing hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, as a treatment for the coronavirus, saying that “no apparent beneficial effect” has been found.
“The decision was made to stop the randomization with the hydroxychloroquine trial,” WHO medical officer Dr. Ana Maria Henao Restrepo said on Wednesday, according to National Review.
She added that there was “no apparent beneficial effect of hydroxychloroquine,” according to data from the agency’s Solidarity trial and from a trial conducted in the United Kingdom, neither of which found any effect on mortality or ventilation in coronavirus patients who required hospitalization.
"What is clear now is hydroxychloroquine does not have — we know for sure now — does not have an impact on the disease in mortality in hospitalized COVID-19 patients," WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said in a virtual press conference on Thursday, according to Medical Xpress.
"Where there is still a gap is: does it have any role at all in prevention, or in minimizing the severity in early infection? We don't know that, as yet," she added.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ended its emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine earlier this week, after determining that the drugs were “unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19.”
President Donald Trump has repeatedly praised hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus, and said last month that he was taking it himself to prevent against contracting the virus.
Swaminathan said on Thursday that "as far as the use of hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis or prevention of COVID-19 — either before or after exposure — the last word is not yet out.”
She added, "There are some good and big trials going on, and we hope those will be completed so that we have the kind of evidence that we need to make sure that patients receive the drugs which help — and do not receive drugs which do not help."
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