A total of 2250 health workers from across Australia have reportedly agreed to participate in clinical trials to test the efficacy of the controversial drug, hydroxychloroquine, in the treatment of the coronavirus.
The drug, which has been used for many years to combat Malaria has been in the news recently following suggestions that it worked well in treating the virus behind the global pandemic. US President Donald Trump played up the hype actually suggesting that he was taking the drug – a statement that was met with widespread incredulity.
But the sudden profile lent to the drug has meant that tests need to be conducted and Australia’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research have confirmed that they will conduct double-blind testing on health workers at the forefront of combatting the pandemic.
Commenting on the trials, the Institutes Professor Ian Wicks told The New York Post, “The trial is focused on our frontline and allied healthcare workers who are at an increased risk of infection due to repeated exposure caring for sick patients.
“Our aim is to help people stay safe, well, and able to continue in their vital roles,” he said.
He said that half of the trial’s participants would be given hydroxychloroquine, while the other half would receive a placebo.
Some studies already caution against the use of supposed wonder drug
The results of the trials will be eagerly anticipated as early research by organizations like the Food and Drug Administration and The Veterans Health Administration have both suggested that there could even be dangerous side-effects for those taking the drug.
In a recent study published by the VA Health Administration it was shown that the mortality rate of patients taking Hydroxychloroquine was, in fact, higher than those who did not take it.
Following the publishing of the VA results, the FDA went on to say it, “cautions against use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for COVID-19 outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems.”
The results of the Australian trials, where the drug will be used prophylactically rather than as a treatment, will be eagerly awaited by the medical fraternity.