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World Health Organization Pauses Trial of Hydroxychloroquine

3 min read

As the U.S. death toll approaches 100,000, Brazil also enters another dark week battling Covid-19. The virus has made its presence known in the lower hemisphere, and the country is now facing the second-largest outbreak globally, with more than 23,000 deaths and nearly 375,000 cases. COVID-19 follows the behavior of the seasonal flu pattern as predicted by epidemiologists who warned the public since the start of the outbreak.  

The WHO announced pausing the use of hydroxychloroquine. The medical journal, The Lancet, reported on Friday that patients getting hydroxychloroquine were dying at higher rates than other coronavirus patients. The WHO has also created its trial called “the solidarity trial,” which is a global effort that involves 3,500 patients from 17 countries to discover COVID-19 therapies, including hydroxychloroquine. The WHO Director, General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said during a media briefing in Geneva on Monday; “The review will consider data collected so far in the Solidarity Trial and, in particular robust randomized available data, to evaluate the potential benefits and harms from this drug adequately,” Tedros said. “The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the Data Safety Monitoring Board reviews the data.”

According to Newsweek, “Brazil’s health guidelines will continue advising hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus patients despite the World Health Organization (WHO) pausing a trial of the drug due to safety concerns. The WHO announced a ‘temporary pause’ on Monday of its trial as safety data undergoes review, its Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. However, he reiterated it was ‘generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.’ Hydroxychloroquine is known to have cardiotoxic effects and adverse reactions like ventricular arrhythmias. 

Even though the tests are determining the ability to treat COVID-19, questions over the risks of side effects might help decrease mortality rates in the treatment of coronavirus. President Trump advocated for the use of hydroxychloroquine many times during the pandemic despite the limited research into whether it is effective against COVID-19. The president has said he took a course of the drug hydroxychloroquine as a prophylaxis measure, stating that he had heard “positive things about its efficacy.” Though recently said he had stopped taking the medication. 

Brazil’s use of the drug comes as the nation deals with coronavirus’s worst outbreaks, with its cases quadrupling in May. Hydroxychloroquine should be cautioned and monitored regarding its use because the cost-benefit ratio may, or may not be what we’d expect.