While earlier US President Donald Trump and Tesla CEO Elon Musk saw potential in well-known malaria drug chloroquine to cure COVID-19, during the press brief on Thursday, March 19 Trump mentioned that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has evven approved the drug used to treat malaria, rheumatic diseases and other conditions to treat patients with new Coronavirus.

In his White House briefing on Thursday, Trump stated:

"It's shown very encouraging -- very, very encouraging early results. And we're going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately. And that's where the FDA has been so great. They -- they've gone through the approval process; it's been approved. And they did it -- they took it down from many, many months to immediate. So we're going to be able to make that drug available by prescription or states.

"Normally the FDA would take a long time to approve something like that, and it's -- it was approved very, very quickly and it's now approved, by prescription."

Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump Reuters

Has FDA approved chloroquine?

No, FDA did not approve chloroquine to treat COVID-19. In a statement FDA revealed that it did not approve any drug which would be used as a cure for the deadly virus. The statement mentioned that "there are no FDA-approved therapeutics or drugs to treat, cure or prevent COVID-19," as its safety and effectiveness have not been proven with regard to the new Coronavirus.

FDA Commissioner Dr Stephen Hahn told the media that the medication which has been approved for other purposes would be tested through a "large, pragmatic clinical trial" with COVID-19 patients.

FDA also added that they are currently working with the US government as well as researchers to find out whether the anti-malaria drug can be used to treat Coronavirus patients which would help to potentially reduce the duration of symptoms, as well as viral shedding that can help to prevent the spread of disease.

Coronavirus treatment

Recently a new study published in International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents has found that the combination of hydroxychloroquine, specifically used for chloroquine-sensitive malaria, could be effective in treating the Coronavirus and reduce the duration of the virus in patient's body.

This study was performed on 30 COVID-19 patients and the results revealed that while hydroxychloroquine was effective on its own as a treatment, when combined with azithromycin the medication was even more effective.

Didier Raoult a researcher from Aix-Marseille University in France, one of the main proponents for using hydroxychloroquine to treat the infection with the deadly virus, conducted a trial on a 36-member team of researchers. He said they treated 20 of these patients with 600 milligrams of hydroxychloroquine daily in a hospital. As per the team, they noticed a "significant" reduction in viral load in patients treated with hydroxychloroquine.

Antidepressants
Drugs for Covid-19 (Representational picture) Reuters

Drugs to treat COVID-19

Scientists globally are testing a number of potential treatments, including a range of drugs used previously in the efforts to fight against Ebola, SARS, HIV and other global outbreaks.

While on Monday, March 16, Johnson & Johnson said there was no evidence that its drug Prezista, by itself or in combination with other HIV drugs, can work against COVID-19, Chinese doctors published an article in The New England Journal of Medicine reporting that AbbVie's HIV drug called Kaletra, which is a combination of two antiretroviral drugs, lopinavir and ritonavir, did not show any improvement in terms of mitigating the deadly virus.