U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters during a press brief on Monday, May 18, that he was taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug promoted by him on many occasions as a game-changing medication for novel Coronavirus.
After several Secret Service members got infected by the virus, Trump said that he has been taking COVID-19 tests more frequently, revealing that he was taking the anti-malaria drug as a way to prevent the Coronavirus.
But the most surprising thing the President said is that many frontline workers are taking the same medication. He told media, "You look at doctors and nurses. A lot of them are taking it as a preventative."
Use of hydroxychloroquine
It should be noted that hydroxychloroquine is a drug that is often used to treat autoimmune diseases like lupus. But there are several ongoing studies to determine whether this medication will help the frontline workers to protect themselves from getting infected by SARS-CoV-2.
However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved this drug as a preventative measure against COVID-19. The agency also did not authorize hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Coronavirus outside hospitals. FDA raised caution against the use of this medication or chloroquine for COVID-19 outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to the risk of heart rhythm problems.
About the use of hydroxychloroquine for Coronavirus, FDA said that as per the recent findings this popular anti-malaria drug has "not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19."
Current Studies on Hydroxychloroquine
In April, the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan started a large-scale study in the U.S. on the effectiveness of this anti-malaria drug in terms of preventing novel Coronavirus in frontline workers.
About 3,000 health care workers and first responders in southeast Michigan have participated in this study. Each of these participants has received unmarked vials with either a daily dose of hydroxychloroquine or a once-a-week dose or a placebo. After eight weeks the researchers will compare the groups to check whether the medication worked or not and in August the primary result will be published.
Researchers at Duke Clinical Research Institute are also conducting a study to understand whether this medication will work on frontline workers. They are currently examining almost 600 health care workers with 25 to 40 added each day.
The participants of this research were divided into two groups. While the researchers had given one group hydroxychloroquine, the other group has given a placebo to "examine whether hydroxychloroquine is effective in decreasing the rate of COVID-19 infection," stated a press release.
Regarding Trump's recent comment, Dr. Adrian Hernandez, professor of Medicine in Cardiology at Duke who started the program told CNN that prior to these trials "there were likely health care workers before that were taking hydroxychloroquine." But he also mentioned that "people participate in clinical trials for hydroxychloroquine, as opposed to taking it individually."