The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday announced the suspension of the use of hydroxychloroquine in solidarity trial for the treatment of COVID-19, over safety concerns.
Its decision to temporarily halt the use of the drug came as a result of a report published by Lancet, which indicated that more people are dying from the use of the drug to combat COVID-19.
The WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who made this known in an online briefing said: “As you know, more than two months ago we initiated the Solidarity Trial, to evaluate the safety and efficacy of four drugs and drug combinations against COVID-19.
“On Friday, the Lancet published an observational study on hydroxycholoroquine and chloraquine and its effects on COVID-19 patients that have been hospitalised.
“The authors reported that among patients receiving the drug, when used alone or with a macrolide, they estimated a higher mortality rate.
“The Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial, representing 10 of the participating countries, met on Saturday and has agreed to review a comprehensive analysis and critical appraisal of all evidence available globally.
“The review will consider data collected so far in the Solidarity Trial and in particular robust randomised 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 safety data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board.”
He however, said that other arms of the solidarity trial are still ongoing and not affected by the pronouncement on the use of hydroxychloroquine.
He added: “The other arms of the trial are continuing. This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloraquine in COVID-19.
“I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria. WHO will provide further updates as we know more. And we will continue to work night and day for solutions, science and solidarity.”
Over 400 hospitals in 35 countries are actively recruiting patients and nearly 3,500 patients have been enrolled from 17 countries.
Recall that five states in the country – Lagos, FCT, Ogun, Kaduna, Sokoto and Kano, have signed up to participate in the WHO’s solidarity trial to help find an effective treatment for COVID-19.
The Trial which is an international clinical trial, is part of the WHO efforts to develop effective treatment regimen and vaccines to combat COVID-19 in the shortest possible.
However, the President of the United States of America (USA), Donald Trump, has continued to re-echo that the hydroxychloroquine is the potential game changer in the fight against COVID-19.
Although, several trials are being conducted globally to ascertain its effectiveness in treating COVID-19, till date, it is not a proven regimen.