Hydroxychloroquine is getting another chance, as a global clinical trial will try to determine the treatment's effectiveness in preventing coronavirus infection, reported Bloomberg.
A trial led by Bangkok-based Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit is now recruiting health workers in contact with COVID-19 patients to study whether hydroxychloroquine, as well as its sister drug chloroquine, can prevent the infection.
"This drug has been more intensely politicized than anything else I've ever heard of," commented Nicholas White, co-principal investigator of the study, adding "it became very polarizing and had a very, very damaging effect on the one thing we all want to find out, which is the truth."
Although a UK trial recently reported that hydroxychloroquine was not effective when used on hospitalized patients, the focus of that study and many others was on using the drug to treat COVID-19, not to prevent infections. White said he expects the drug to work best before exposure to the virus or just after.
The Mahidol Oxford-led study will involve a longer time frame and more people, testing 40,000 participants over several months. It plans to recruit people in Thailand, the UK and several study sites in Africa and South America.
White said the trial and recruitment of participants was paused after the now-retracted paper in The Lancet suggested hydroxychloroquine carried the risk of heart side effects and death. The Mahidol Oxford-led trial was cleared to go ahead again from the UK medicines agency after a five-week hiatus.
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