WHO characterized COVID19 as a pandemic, the illness due to COVID19 is already claiming many lives all over the World. The increasing number of contracted patients is no way near under control. Methods like lockdowns and specialized isolation camps has become what authorities can come up with for now. Pharmaceutical companied and drug authorities have embarked on a relentless race to come up with vaccines and medical protocols with high efficacy drugs, leaving the idea undermined whether the cost of these treatments would be affordable by the mass population and authorities.
Meanwhile on 20th march, while addressing the press conference on COVID19, Mr. trump proclaimed hydroxychloroquine, a common anti-malarial, to be a potential treatment protocol for the pandemic which was not confidently defended by the official beside I’m and urged caution about it.
“This is prescribed for many years for people to combat malaria, which was a big problem and it’s very effective,” Trump said. “It was a strong drug.” He later added, “I sure as hell think we ought to give it a try.”
The statement went viral on media and became the talk of the town but do these claims really hold water? This question has left many skeptics of the statement from White House.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, and a beacon of evidence-based policy in the administration’s botched pandemic response, was asked about the use of hydroxychloroquine and its efficacy for the treatment as it wasn’t just a statement from Mr. trump, a lot has been surfaced showing use of the drug for treating COVID19 and finding it effective. Well his response was not very for the argument; he stated the evidence of its effectiveness was very limited and anecdotal.
Hydroxychloroquine, the less toxic version, is an appealing option mainly because it’s an off-the-shelf drug. Companies know how to make it, there are low-cost generic versions available, and the drug has already been tested and approved for use against malaria and to treat inflammation in conditions like arthritis.
On the other hand, Chinese researchers were able to find some significant results. The lab culture showed the effectiveness of the drug by blocking the virus from entering the cells. This became the drug of choice for many Chinese and south Korean doctors while French researchers found in a study that hydroxychloroquine was able to eliminate the virus from upper respiratory track completely which means that the infected individual will not be a carrier of the virus anymore which he could have transmitted even after 20 days of the infection if was untreated.
“Such results are promising and open the possibility of an international strategy to decision makers to fight this emerging viral infection in real-time even if other strategies and research including vaccine development could be also effective, but only in the future,” the French researchers wrote. “We therefore recommend that COVID-19 patients be treated with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin to cure their infection and to limit the transmission of the virus to other people in order to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the world.”
But the researchers only looked at 36 patients and only 26 received hydroxychloroquine in the study — a tiny sample size. Right now, the most effective way to fight the virus remains not getting infected in the first place, which means using good personal hygiene like hand-washing, and social distancing measures.