The search for a drug against Covid-19 has suffered a severe setback. The malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine may be unsuitable for the treatment of corona infected people and could even potentially increase the death rate. This emerges from a study in the specialist magazine “Lancet”, which was published last Friday. A team of researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston and the University Hospital in Zurich had evaluated the data from 96,000 patients in hundreds of hospitals worldwide.
The researchers came to the conclusion that the drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine showed no benefit in Covid-19 patients. On the contrary, according to the researchers, the data collected not only indicated an increased risk of dying in patients, but also an increased risk of cardiac arrhythmias.
The WHO responded immediately: it has now stopped the tests with the drug. According to dpa, general director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that as much data as possible on this and the similar active ingredient chloroquine should be evaluated.
Risk of cardiac arrhythmia and increased mortality
The hydroxychloroquine study was to find out whether different medications for malaria, HIV, Ebola or multiple sclerosis have a healing effect in Covid 19 patients. Experts had warned early on that malaria drugs could have serious side effects that could even result in death.
A study on the treatment of corona patients in Brazil had been prematurely canceled at Easter. The reason: Patients who received a higher dose of the malaria medication developed heart problems and were at risk of developing fatal cardiac arrhythmias.
The side effects of chloroquine are nausea, diarrhea and tinnitus. Pregnant women are not allowed to take it. Chinese doctors had therefore clearly restricted the requirements for research on chloroquine at an early stage. So patients over 65 years of age did not get the drug.
Patients are also excluded if they have heart disease, advanced liver or kidney disease or a retinal disease. People who have received certain antibiotics or steroids also do not receive chloroquine in China.
Trump has now renounced his “gift of God”
According to a WHO expert, the studies with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine should be discussed again in a week or two. Together with three other drugs, the WHO had tested hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in a study called “Solidarity” for their treatment success with Covid-19. Tedros said the other clinical trials in the series would continue.
To the horror of numerous doctors, US President Donald Trump recently announced that he takes the malaria drug every day as a prophylactic against corona. He has repeatedly praised chloroquine as a miracle cure. Last Sunday, the US president said in an interview that he had stopped taking the drug.
In late March, the U.S. drug agency approved drugs for Covid-19. How many seriously ill US patients have been treated with the controversial drug since then is not yet known.
The pharmaceutical company Bayer made several million tablets of chloroquine available to the USA, Italy and China free of charge. Germany also received eight million pills. The hopes that the treatments for Covid-19 will prove safe and effective have now been significantly reduced.