The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the temporary suspension of its trial of hydroxycholoroquine due to safety concerns. Hydroxycholoroquine is the drug touted by US President Donald Trump to fight the deadly coronavirus.
Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial drug that doctors use to cure rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
“The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the safety data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing.
“The other arms of the trial are continuing,” Tedros said. “This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloraquine in Covid-19. I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.”
Trump claims that hydroxychloroquine is a potential game changer in stopping the coronavirus outbreak.
Several clinical trials are being done to determine if hydroxychloroquine is effective in treating COVID-19.
Trump’s use of hydroxychloroquine
However, Trump said earlier this month that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine to ward off the novel coronavirus even if there is no proof that it is a viable coronavirus treatment option.
“I happen to be taking it,” Trump said, saying he has since finished taking the drug.
“Finished, just finished,” he said during an interview on Sinclair Broadcasting on Sunday. “And by the way, I’m still here.”
“A lot of good things have come out. You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the front-line workers. Before you catch it. The front-line workers, many, many are taking it.”
However, the White House refused to comment. The Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately give any comment after CNBC requested for one.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to over 5.4 million confirmed cases around the world, with more than 345,059 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The latest record shows that in the US, there are at least 1.6 million cases and at least 97,000 deaths.
Increased risk death in coronavirus patients
A study published in The Lancet affirmed the link between taking hydroxychloroquine and increased risk of death in coronavirus patients.
Findings revealed that COVID-19 patients that were given hydroxychloroquine are more likely to experience irregular heart rhythms. The researchers evaluated more than 96,000 patients from 671 hospitals across six continents.
The new study published in The Lancet was written through the evaluation of patients with COVID-19 between Dec. 20 and April 14 by Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and other institutions.
The team reported that 14,888 patients were given hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, either alone or in combination with a macrolide. The remaining 81,144 patients were placed in the control group. Meanwhile, almost 10,700 patients died in the hospital.
Results showed a 34% increase in risk of mortality for patients who took hydroxychloroquine and a 137% increased risk of serious heart arrhythmia after controlling for multiple factors, including sex, race, age, and underlying health conditions.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced through an advisory that hydroxychloroquine has “not been shown to be safe and effective”.
The FDA presented reports suggesting a link between hydroxychloroquine and serious heart rhythm problems in COVID-19 patients.