NEW DELHI: The World Health Organisation said Monday, it is temporarily halting the clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine, a drug that is extensively used in different parts of the world to treat COVID-19 patients. The move comes after the medical journal, The Lancet reported on Friday that patients who are on HCQ medication are dying at higher rates than other COVID-19 patients.
In Solidarity Trial, a total of 3,500 patients from 17 countries have been enrolled to test several possible treatments for the novel coronavirus. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a virtual meeting said, "The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the safety data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board. 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, hydroxychloroquine."
Sowmya Swaminathan, the WHO's chief scientist says that the Lancet study raised many questions on the use of HCQ. So, "We decided we should be proactive, err on the side of caution and suspend enrollment temporarily into the hydroxychloroquine arm of the solidarity trial".
US President Donald Trump announced last week that he is taking HCQ and it has prompted governments to buy loads of medicine. Brazil's health minister also suggested the use of HCQ and chloroquine to treat even mild COVID-19 cases. Scientific studies say that both these drugs have serious side effects particularly heart arrhythmia. According to the Lancet study, neither drug proved to be useful.