Donald Trump, President of the United States of America has announced that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved hydroxychloroquine as the first medicine for COVID-19.
Hydroxychloroquine is not a novelty. It has been used since 1955 for treating malaria and relieving arthritis, lupus and other diseases. It isn’t expensive either. In some countries highly affected by malaria monthly costs are up to 5 dollars, and around 25 dollars in the USA. It is administered through pills.
The prognoses are looking good – due to the medicine’s long-term usage it is able to bypass many rigorous procedures, since its unwanted effects on high-risk patients are already known. They include, in a small number of patients, vomiting, headaches, eyesight problems and exhaustion, which don’t sound too bad when in comparison with the dangers of COVID-19.
All that’s left is to determine whether hydroxychloroquine is actually efficient in fighting the coronavirus, and the first results seem promising, but we’re still in the early stages of testing.
Dr. Didier Rault from the French University has published preliminary results from 36 COVID-19 positive patients. 6 patients showed no symptoms, 22 had a respiratory tract infection, and there were 8 cases in which the infection had spread to the patient’s lungs.
At the beginning of March, 20 of these patients were receiving 600 mg of this medicine, and some of them were also being treated with an antibiotic called azithromycin used for curing bacterial lung infections. The rest of the patients, the control group, were administered placebo.
6 days later, 70% of patients which were administered hydroxychloroquine were completely cured. 12,5% of the control group were also cured, and all 6 patients – serious cases – which were receiving azithromycin alongside hydroxychloroquine were cured as well.
These results are very promising, but we shouldn’t celebrate just yet – it’s important to note that this was a preliminary study with a small number of samples. This medicine warrants further research, which is being carried out right now.