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‘Politicized’ Hydroxychloroquine Being ‘Discarded Prematurely’ Warns Oxford Professor

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Leading scientific researchers from the University of Oxford have warned that “the antiviral medication hydroxychloroquine is being ‘discarded prematurely’ and could still have benefit against COVID-19”, potentially saving tens of thousands of lives.

Studies taken place to date have sought to treat patients who have already caught the virus, however, experts say it may still be able to stop people from getting infected in the first place.

Both the BBC and the PharmaTimes report on the matter.

The Oxford University-led trial is aiming to enrol 40,000 frontline workers around the world.

Investigators hope the large-scale, double-blind randomised study will show if early use of the treatment prevents the virus from getting worse.

“We know now that it doesn’t work in treatment of hospitalised patients,” says Prof Nick White, one of the study’s investigators.

“But it’s still is a medicine that may prove beneficial in preventing Covid-19.”

Prof. White is a well-respected scientists who was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1999 and has worked with Oxford University as well as other high profile medical departments over a four-decade long career.

“I don’t think there’s been a more politicised and controversial medicine than hydroxychloroquine,” says Prof White.

PharmaTimes said of the matter:

The University of Oxford and the Wellcome supported Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) are leading the COPCOV study, the only large, global clinical trial testing hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 prevention.

The COPCOV study is a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study aiming to enroll 40,000 healthcare workers to determine if hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can prevent COVID-19.

The researchers maintained that previous prevention studies were too small to show conclusive evidence of whether hydroxychloroquine can work or not as a preventative medication. They also added that early use of the drug is critical and that safety concerns surrounding hydroxychloroquine have been exaggerated.

“There is no guarantee that we’ll soon have a widely available vaccine against COVID-19. Despite all the publicity, we still do not know if hydroxychloroquine can prevent COVID-19, but it’s really important that we find out, one way or the other. The only way to do this is to enroll a large number of participants in randomized controlled trials like COPCOV,” said Sir Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust.

“Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have a very good safety record in the treatment of malaria and rheumatological conditions over the past 60 years. Billions of treatments have been given,” said Professor Sir Nick White, COPCOV Co-Principal Investigator.

“Concerns that they might cause heart arrhythmias are not supported by the evidence from the randomized trials in COVID-19, and in rheumatological conditions, hydroxychloroquine has actually been shown to reduce the risk of heart arrhythmias. There is very strong evidence that the doses being evaluated for prevention in the COPCOV study are safe,” White added.

Despite being tested in the largest study of its kind in aiming to prevent COVID-19 infection, hydroxychloroquine continues to bear the brunt of tech companies and the media as they suppress and penalize users who tout the potential benefits of the drug in the fight against COVID-19.

The National Pulse recently revealed how the suppression of the drug is directly related to the Emergency Use Authorization in the United States.

An FDA document (now removed but archived by the National Pulse) showed how the authorization is being held for more lucrative Big Pharma drugs like Remdesivir, or even a vaccine. READ MORE.


Nick Regan

Nick Regan is a 2020 National Pulse Writing Fellow