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WHO halts hydroxychloroquine trials on COVID-19 patients

Agence France-Presse June 19,2020 - 06:31 AM

GENEVA — The World Health Organization decided Wednesday to halt trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, finding it did not reduce the mortality rate.

This file photograph taken on May 20, 2020, shows a bottle and pills of Hydroxychloroquine as they sit on a counter at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah. The United States on June 15, 2020 withdrew emergency use authorizations for two coronavirus treatments favored by President Donald Trump, citing their lack of efficacy and safety concerns. Photo by GEORGE FREY / AFP

A decades-old malaria and rheumatoid arthritis drug, hydroxychloroquine has been at the centre of political and scientific controversy.

It has been touted as a possible treatment for the new coronavirus by high profile figures, including US President Donald Trump.

The drug has been included in several randomized clinical trials — considered the gold standard for clinical investigation — but the WHO said the evidence had led the UN health agency to call time on its own trials.

Doctor Ana Maria Henao Restrepo, from the WHO’s health emergencies programme, told a virtual press conference in Geneva that it was being withdrawn from its multi-country Solidarity Trial of a range of potential treatments.

“The internal evidence from the Solidarity/Discovery Trial, the external evidence from the Recovery Trial and the combined evidence from these large randomized trials, brought together, suggest that hydroxychloroquine — when compared with the standard of care in the treatment of hospitalised COVID-19 patients — does not result in the reduction of the mortality of those patients,” she said.

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