The National Pulse
hydroxychloroquine

Chloroquine: What Do We Know?

As the numbers of infected and dead coronavirus patients continue to tick up, we’ve begun to hear of hydroxychloroquine, a well-known anti-viral drug used for years to treat malaria, Lyme disease, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Chloroquine is FDA-approved and has been for many years. It is available and inexpensive (as low as 3 cents per pill for hydroxychloroquine).

There appears to be some evidence that this is effective in treating COVID-19. Three medical studies have confirmed that in using chloroquine to treat the virus, one hundred percent of patients treated have been cured, in as little as six days. No one has died.

This could be the game-changer of game-changers.

While chloroquine has not yet been FDA-approved to treat COVID-19, some doctors are already using it.

Dr. William Grace, an oncologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, appeared on Fox News on Thursday night, telling host Laura Ingraham that doctors at his hospital had treated almost one hundred ‘very sick’ COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine, a less toxic form of chloroquine, and Azithromycin.

There have been no deaths among these patients.

He says colleagues at other New York hospitals are also using it, and there have been no deaths at these facilities, either.

Dr. Grace was careful to note they were only using it with patients who showed ‘major respiratory compromise’, that the real danger with the virus was having the patient’s lungs fill with fluid, something the drug tended to arrest. Ingraham noted that just because the drug had not yet been FDA-approved for use in treating COVID-19, it did not mean that doctors could not use it in clinical settings.

As with all medications, chloroquine can have side effects.

As recently as 2013, the FDA relabeled the warnings on chloroquine to include possible side effects such as dizziness, loss of balance, ringing in the ears, anxiety, depression, and hallucinations. But it’s important to note many patients do not experience these effects at all, and for those that do, these side effects are serious but do not lead to fatalities.

At the same time, we’re also learning that malaria outbreaks in countries which regularly experience them might be a predicting factor in how many cases of COVID-19 break out in that country. In a strange inverse ratio, the more cases of malaria a country experiences regularly, the fewer cases of COVID-19 seem to be showing up in those countries.

Is this just a coincidence, or is it an important consideration in potentially identifying, quantifying and/or treating this pandemic

Consider what Dr. Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville since 2001, posted on his Facebook page on March 18th:

WOW.On the subject of using antimalarial drugs for COVID-19 treatment, I've compared COVID-19 cases versus malaria…

Posted by Roy W. Spencer on Wednesday, March 18, 2020

As investigators look further at this interesting relationship between malaria and COVID-19, it’s important to determine, if these numbers hold up with additional analysis, why this is so.

And is it possible that since countries affected by malaria are already using chloroquine as an effective remedy, and since presumably at least part of their population in the recent past has used chloroquine as a treatment for malaria… could the chloroquine they had ingested previously be already, somehow, protecting them from developing COVID-19?

Maybe the real correlation here is that countries using chloroquine regularly for another reason are already protecting their population (even if unknowingly) against another deadly virus. If so, chloroquine’s efficacy as a prophylactic may already be at least partially proven.

Susan Sloate

Susan Sloate is a 2020 National Pulse Writing Fellow and author of a number of bestselling books, found on her website www.susansloate.com