The WHO paused hydroxychloroquine’s inclusion yesterday in a global trial of COVID-19 treatments, following Friday’s release of a study linking the drug to harmful outcomes, Politico reports.
The observational study, published in the Lancet, tied the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine in COVID-19 patients with a higher risk of death and increased frequency of heart arrhythmias.
The WHO “will err on the side of caution" and give the trial’s data safety monitoring board a chance to examine the evidence and determine whether to proceed, said WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan.
The Lancet noted that the drugs are generally safe for approved uses such as for autoimmune disease or malaria—but need to be carefully evaluated to see how they affect COVID-19 patients.
Remdesivir Study Holds Up—But It's Not a Wonder Drug
Scientists released the data from a study that prompted support of remdesivir as another potential treatment, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Frustrated scientists had waited weeks for the chance to review the evidence. “For God’s sake, this is a pandemic — we need some data,” says Judith Feinberg, vice chair of research at West Virginia University School of Medicine.
Published in the New England Journal of Medicine Friday evening, the numbers reinforce the findings that the drug shortens recovery time in hospitalized patients from 15 days to 11 days. But the researchers emphasize that while the results were generally positive, it’s not a wonder drug.
“Given high mortality despite the use of remdesivir, it is clear that treatment with an antiviral drug alone is not likely to be sufficient,” they concluded.