Coronavirus and chloroquine: Is there evidence it works?

Some world leaders are keen on chloroquine anti-malarial drugs to treat Covid-19 - what's the evidence?

There has been a global surge in demand for drugs normally used against malaria to tackle the coronavirus, as governments urgently seek out treatments for the new disease.

Chloroquine, and a related derivative, hydroxychloroquine, have gained attention - despite the World Health Organization (WHO) saying there is no definitive evidence they work.

So what is the current evidence of their effectiveness as a treatment for the coronavirus, and who is using them?

What do we know about these drugs?

President Trump has frequently referred to the potential of hydroxychloroquine in White House briefings. At a recent press conference, he referred to it and said: "What do you have to lose? Take it."

In a video removed by Facebook for breaching its misinformation guidelines, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro claimed "hydroxychloroquine is working in all places".

Tablets containing chloroquine have long been used in the treatment of malaria to reduce fever and inflammation, and the hope is that they can also inhibit the virus that causes Covid-19.

"Chloroquine seems to block the coronavirus in lab studies. There's some anecdotal evidence from doctors saying it has appeared to help," says James Gallagher, BBC health correspondent.

There is insufficient evidence at the moment from current trials as to their effective use in treatment of patients with Covid-19, and the results from one early French study suggest it is not effective at all.

There are also risks of serious side effects, including renal and liver damage.

"We need larger, high-quality randomised clinical trials in order to better evaluate their effectiveness," says University of Oxford 's Kome Gbinigie, author of a report on anti-malarial testing for Covid-19.

More than 20 trials are being carried out, including in the US, UK, Spain and China.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove says the UK is "conducting rapid clinical trials on anti-malarials" to assess if they are able to reduce the impact of Covid-19 on those affected.

In the US, various trials are under way for a combination of drugs including chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic called Zithromax, for treating Covid-19 patients.

Which countries have authorised their use?

The US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), the body in charge of licensing medicines in America, has granted "emergency use" authorisation for these drugs in the treatment of Covid-19 for a limited number of hospitalised cases.

That does not mean the FDA is saying they definitely work. But it does mean that in specific circumstances, hospitals can request and use the medicines from government stockpiles for use in Covid-19 treatment.

The US government has said that 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine have been donated to the national stockpile by a German-based pharmaceutical company.

Other countries are also deploying these anti-malarial drugs to varying degrees.

 

France has authorised doctors to prescribe them for patients with Covid-19, but the country's medical watchdog has warned of side effects.

India's health ministry has recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine as a preventative treatment for healthcare workers, as well as households in contact with confirmed cases if they have a prescription from a doctor.

However, India's government research body has warned against the unrestricted usage of the anti-malarial drug and said it was "experimental" and only for emergency situations.

Several Middle Eastern countries have authorised its use or are conducting trials. This includes Bahrain (which claims it was one of the first countries to use hydroxychloroquine on coronavirus patients), Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

Is there enough chloroquine available?

As interest in these drugs has grown as a potential treatment for Covid-19, many countries have seen high demand and shortages.

Chloroquine and its derivatives have long been widely available in pharmacies, particularly in developing countries, for the treatment of malaria.

This is despite their declining efficacy against malaria, as the disease has become increasingly resistant.

Jordan has banned the sale of hydroxychloroquine in pharmacies to prevent stockpiling. Similarly, the Kuwaiti Health Ministry decided to withdraw all medicines containing the drugs from private pharmacies and limit them to hospitals and health centres.

Kenya has banned over-the-counter sales of chloroquine, so it is now only available on prescription.

India is a major producer of these antimalarial drugs, and has imposed a ban on exports.

President Trump has made a personal plea to India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, for access to the drugs for use in the United States. It has been reported that India is considering this request.

Unregulated use can be unsafe

In Nigeria, households still regularly use tablets containing chloroquine for treating malaria, even though it was banned in 2005 for first-line use because of its declining effectiveness.

News of a February study in China about the use of chloroquine for the coronavirus had already sparked lively debate in Lagos, so people began stocking up.

Following Mr Trump's reference to it as a coronavirus treatment, this ramped up, and shops and chemists sold out of the drug very quickly.

But the Nigerian Centres for Disease Control has told people to stop taking it. "The WHO has NOT approved the use of chloroquine for #COVID19 management."

Officials in Lagos state say there have been a number of people poisoned from overdoses of chloroquine.BBC

 
 

Other News

.
Social insurance policy - Welfare fulcrum of the people
Social insurance policy - Welfare fulcrum of the people
SOCIETYicon  01/06/2020 

On May 23, the Vietnam Social Security (VSS) and the Vietnam Post (VNPost) jointly organized the launching ceremony to respond to the month-long campaign that calls for people to participate in voluntary social insurance.

Government Decree on entry and exit of foreigners into Vietnam
Government Decree on entry and exit of foreigners into Vietnam
SOCIETYicon  03/07/2020 

The Vietnamese Government has recently promulgated Decree No 75/2020 providing details for a number of articles belonging to the Law on amendments and supplements and a number of articles

Over 70% of high school graduates apply for universities
Over 70% of high school graduates apply for universities
SOCIETYicon  03/07/2020 

640,000 students who have just taken high school graduation exams have sent applications to universities nationwide this year according to the Ministry of Education and Training.

270 Korean experts enter Vietnam, work for LG Group
270 Korean experts enter Vietnam, work for LG Group
SOCIETYicon  03/07/2020 

Vietnam Airlines flight VN9417 carrying 270 experts from Incheon International Airport in the Republic of Korea landed at Cat Bi International Airport in Hai Phong port city on July 2.

Latest Coronavirus News in Vietnam & Southeast Asia July 3
Latest Coronavirus News in Vietnam & Southeast Asia July 3
SOCIETYicon  03/07/2020 

Vietnam attends UN Security Council’s Open Debate on Pandemics and Security

Carlos Ghosn: Japan ask US to extradite ex-Green Beret and son over Japan escape
Carlos Ghosn: Japan ask US to extradite ex-Green Beret and son over Japan escape
SOCIETYicon  03/07/2020 

The ex-soldier and his son are held in the US for allegedly helping the ex-Nissan boss flee Japan.

Outrage as Indian judge calls alleged rape victim 'unbecoming'
Outrage as Indian judge calls alleged rape victim 'unbecoming'
SOCIETYicon  03/07/2020 

An Indian judge is under pressure to delete comments from a court order that questioned the behaviour of a woman who alleged she was raped.

Winners of New Zealand scholarships 2020 announced
Winners of New Zealand scholarships 2020 announced
SOCIETYicon  03/07/2020 

Education New Zealand (ENZ) has announced 22 Vietnamese winners of the New Zealand Schools Scholarships (NZSS) 2020, with recipients offered 50 percent off tuition fees for their first year of study in New Zealand.  

Vietnam makes progress in public budget accountability
Vietnam makes progress in public budget accountability
SOCIETYicon  03/07/2020 

Vietnam’s Government and Ministry of Finance has made efforts to realise its commitments on public budget accountability and gained increased confidence from people and development partners regarding budget management,

Coronavirus: Texas governor mandates wearing of face masks
Coronavirus: Texas governor mandates wearing of face masks
SOCIETYicon  03/07/2020 

Warning of some intensive care units nearly full, Greg Abbott says the outbreak is "getting worse".

Children need four diphtheria shots
Children need four diphtheria shots
SOCIETYicon  03/07/2020 

The General Department of Preventive Medicine has urged parents to be sure their children have a total of four diphtheria vaccine shots taken at the proper times. 

Myanmar: Death toll in jade mine landslide climbs to 113
Myanmar: Death toll in jade mine landslide climbs to 113
SOCIETYicon  03/07/2020 

The death toll from a landslide at a jade mine in Hpakant township, Myanmar’s Kachin state has climbed to 113 as more bodies were recovered on July 2, according to a statement by the country’s Information Ministry.

Da Nang to install smart cameras at high schools
Da Nang to install smart cameras at high schools
SOCIETYicon  03/07/2020 

The central city of Da Nang has approved a project installing smart cameras at local senior high schools, its Department of Education and Training said on July 2.

Mekong Delta province to help farmers with $1.7 million for drought, saltwater
Mekong Delta province to help farmers with $1.7 million for drought, saltwater
SOCIETYicon  03/07/2020 

Tra Vinh has decided to provide relief worth over VND40 billion ($1.7 million) to more than 28,000 farming households to revive agriculture, which was severely affected by drought and saltwater intrusion in the 2019 - 20 dry season.

Pay rises hinging on recovery policy
Pay rises hinging on recovery policy
SOCIETYicon  02/07/2020 

If adopted, an increase in the region-based minimum wage for non-state employees next year will further pressurise local businesses, almost all of which are making efforts to deal with the aftermath of the global health crisis.

Taiwanese drug trafficker sentenced to death in Vietnam
Taiwanese drug trafficker sentenced to death in Vietnam
SOCIETYicon  02/07/2020 

The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court on July 2 handed down a death sentence on a Taiwanese citizen charged with trafficking an extremely large amount of heroin from Vietnam to Taiwan.

Giant crocodile-shaped bread excites local diners
Giant crocodile-shaped bread excites local diners
SOCIETYicon  02/07/2020 

Batches of crocodile-shaped bread weighing a hefty 1.5kg with a length of 60cm are being sold at a store in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang, provoking a buzz on social media in recent days.

Hanoi to inspect pavements’ stone paving
Hanoi to inspect pavements’ stone paving
SOCIETYicon  02/07/2020 

Stone paving for pavements along streets will be closing supervised following a request from the chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung.

Nigerian man finds internet fame and happy family in Vietnam
Nigerian man finds internet fame and happy family in Vietnam
YOUR VIETNAMicon  04/07/2020 

A Nigerian man living in Vietnam has become an internet hit thanks to his funny videos and Vietnamese language skills.

Slow Zones, Safe Zones programme reduces road accident injuries
Slow Zones, Safe Zones programme reduces road accident injuries
SOCIETYicon  03/07/2020 

The second phase of the Slow Zones, Safe Zones speed reduction programme will be carried out in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai between July and March 2022, following the first phase that began in April 2018 and ended in June this year.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN