LONDON – British health workers start Thursday to attend an international trial during the University of Oxford trial of two anti-malaria drugs to see if they can prevent COVID-19, including a U.S. President Donald Trump says he has taken.
That ‘COPCOV’ study will involve more than 40,000 frontal health workers from Europe, Africa, Asia and South America to determine whether chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are effective in preventing the novel coronavirus.
Demand for hydroxychloroquine increased after Trump praised it in early April. Earlier this week, the U.S. manager said he is now taking the drug as a preventative drug against the virus despite medical warnings about its use.
The lawsuit, led by the University of Oxford with the support of the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in Bangkok, opens on Thursday to UK participants in hospitals in Brighton and Oxford and involving those in close contact with patients with proven or suspected COVID 19th
“We really don’t know if chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine is beneficial or harmful to COVID-19,” said University of Oxford professor Nicholas White, the co-main investigator based at MORU.
“The best way to find out if they are effective in preventing COVID-19 is in a randomized clinical trial.”
The COPCOV team said laboratory evidence showed that anti-malaria drugs may be effective in preventing or treating COVID-19, but that there was no conclusive evidence.
U.S. regulators have allowed the urgent use of hydroxlychloroquine for coronavirus patients, but U.S. The Food and Drug Administration has warned against using it in COVID-19 out-of-hospital or clinical trials because of the risk of serious heart rhythm problems.
“These trials will give us the best understanding of how safe and effective these drugs can be across different populations and age groups,” said Nick Cammack, COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator Lead at Welcome trust, a UK-based medical research organization that helps fund the trial.
“If and only if they are effective, these drugs can be scaled up and rolled out quickly around the world.”
In the UK, Europe and Africa, participants receive either hydroxychloroquine or placebo for three months. In Asia, they are given either chloroquine or placebo.
A total of 25 study sites are expected to be open in the UK by the end of June, MORU said, with plans for additional sites in Thailand and Southeast Asia, Italy, Portugal, Africa and South America. Results are expected by the end of this year.
“We are looking at this with great care and investigating all the evidence that is out there,” UK Security Minister James Brokenshire told Sky News.
(Editing by Michael Holden)