Trials of the controversial anti-malarial drug taken by US President Donald Trump to try to prevent catching coronavirus are to be resumed.
UK regulators say hydroxychloroquine and a similar drug chloroquine can be given to healthcare workers in a clinical study to test the theory.
That work looked at treating Covid-19.
It concluded the drug was not beneficial and increased the risk of irregular heart rhythms and death. That publication led to the WHO suspending its coronavirus treatment trials of the anti-malaria drug.
Concerns were raised about the data and then some of the study’s authors said they could no longer stand by their publication in The Lancet as the healthcare firm Surgisphere that was involved in the work would not allow an independent review.
The New England Journal of Medicine retracted another paper that had data from Surgisphere.
The cheap and widely available drug has been safely used to prevent malaria infection for years.
Although studies suggest hydroxychloroquine is not a life-saver for people who are already ill with coronavirus, researchers are keen to continue exploring whether it might prevent infections.
The COPCOV trial will see chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine or a placebo given to more than 40,000 healthcare workers from Europe, Africa, Asia and South America.
One of the lead researchers, Prof Sir Nicholas White from the University of Oxford, said: “Hydroxychloroquine could still prevent infections, and this needs to be determined in a randomised controlled trial.”
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In this day and age, understanding bacteria and viruses and developing vaccines are national security issues. In my view sizable part of every country’s defense budget should be spent in these pursuits rather than making tanks and other weapons.
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