The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday that it had “temporarily” suspended clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19 being carried out across a range of countries as a precautionary measure.
The decision came after the publication last week of a study in the Lancet indicating that using the drug on COVID-19 patients could increase their likelihood of dying, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, told a virtual press conference.
He added that the WHO-backed trials had been “suspended while the safety is revieweD
The United Nations (UN) health body tweeted on its handle, @WHO: “The review will consider data collected so far in the Solidarity Trial and, in particular robust randomized available data, to adequately evaluate the potential benefits and harms from this drug.
“The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial, while the data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board.”
“The other arms of the trial are continuing,” Tedros said.
He continued: “This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19. I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.”
Hydroxychloroquine, which Trump has repeatedly touted as a potential game-changer in fighting the coronavirus, is an anti-malarial drug that’s also used by doctors to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Numerous clinical trials are looking to see if it is effective in fighting COVID-19, but it is not a proven treatment.
Despite the lack of scientific evidence presenting hydroxychloroquine as a viable coronavirus treatment option, Trump told reporters earlier this month that he had been taking the drug to avoid contracting the disease.
“I happen to be taking it,” Trump said during a roundtable event at the White House.
“A lot of good things have come out. You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the front-line workers.
“Before you catch it. The front-line workers, many, many are taking it.”
The White House declined to comment. The Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the media.”