WHO again stops use of hydroxychloroquine, others for treating COVID-19

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The World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday announced the discontinuation of the hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir, for the treatment of hospitalised patients with COVID-19.

It said results from its solidarity trial arm with hydroxychloroquine and a combination of the HIV drugs, produced little or no reduction in mortality (death).

The Solidarity Trial’s International Steering Committee therefore recommended the discontinuation of trials with hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir.

It however said its decision will not affect any other studies of how the treatments can be used as a pre- or post-exposure drug or by patients not in hospitals.

A statement by WHO said, “WHO today accepted the recommendation from the Solidarity Trial’s International Steering Committee to discontinue the trial’s hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir arms.

“The Solidarity Trial was established by WHO to find an effective COVID-19 treatment for hospitalized patients.

“The International Steering Committee formulated the recommendation in light of the evidence for hydroxychloroquine vs standard-of-care and for lopinavir/ritonavir vs standard-of-care from the Solidarity trial interim results, and from a review of the evidence from all trials presented at the 1-2 July WHO Summit on COVID-19 research and innovation.

“These interim trial results show that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients when compared to standard of care. Solidarity trial investigators will interrupt the trials with immediate effect.”

It added, “For each of the drugs, the interim results do not provide solid evidence of increased mortality. There were, however, some associated safety signals in the clinical laboratory findings of the add-on Discovery trial, a participant in the Solidarity trial. These will also be reported in the peer-reviewed publication.

“This decision applies only to the conduct of the Solidarity trial in hospitalized patients and does not affect the possible evaluation in other studies of hydroxychloroquine or lopinavir/ritonavir in non-hospitalized patients or as pre- or post-exposure prophylaxis for COVID-19.

“The interim Solidarity results are now being readied for peer-reviewed publication.”

The WHO is however still leading the trial with remdesivir, to determine its effectiveness in treating COVID-19 infections.

Recall that on the 25th of May 2020, the WHO suspended the use of hydroxychloroquine in Solidarity Trial, multi-country trial, for the treatment of COVID-19, over safety concerns. It said a report published by Lancet, indicated that more people were dying from the use of the drug to combat COVID-19.

Later on the 4th of June 2020, it announced the resumption of clinical trials of the anti-malaria drug – hydroxychloroquine, to determine its efficacy in the prevention and treatment COVID-19. The WHO based its decision to rescind on its prior stance on the fact that there was no cogent reason to halt the drug use for trial based on review of available data by its Safety Committee.

On the 18th of June, it said outrightly that hydroxychloroquine had no effect whatsoever on COVID-19.

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