COVID-19: WHO retracts order, allows Hydroxychloroquine trials to resume


New Delhi, June 03: A week after the World Health Organization (WHO) paused the hydroxychloroquine arm of a clinical trial of experimental COVID-19 drugs, its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today said experts had reviewed the safety data and were now recommending the trial continue as planned.

"On the basis of the available mortality data... the executive group will communicate with the principal investigators in the trial about resuming the hydroxychloroquine arm," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news briefing.

Earlier, the WHO had said that in light of a paper published last week in the Lancet that showed people taking hydroxychloroquine were at higher risk of death and heart problems, there would be "a temporary pause" on the hydroxychloroquine arm of its global clinical trial.

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"This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19," WHO said, adding that the drugs are approved treatments for people with malaria or autoimmune diseases.

Other treatments in the trial, including the experimental drug remdesivir and an HIV combination therapy, are still being tested.

Tedros said the executive group behind WHO's global "Solidarity" trial met on Saturday and decided to conduct a comprehensive review of all available data on hydroxychloroquine and that its use in the trial would be suspended for now.

However, India continued to use the drug in preventive treatment for COVID-19 under strict medical supervision.

"We found there were no major side-effects except for nausea, vomiting, palpitation occasionally. Hence in our advisory, we have recommended that it should be continued for prophylaxis as there is no harm. Benefit may be there," ICMR had said.

Hydroxychloroquine has been touted by Donald Trump and others as a possible treatment for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The US President has said he was taking the drug to help prevent infection.

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