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Covid-19: WHO warns against use of untested medicines

Author: Stephen Omiri | Published: Tuesday, March 24, 2020

WHO and CDC primarily recommend using soap and water to clean your hands | Credit | Jean-Paul Chassenet/Alamy Stock

The World Health Organization has warned against the use of untested medicines to treat patients of coronavirus disease.

Currently, WHO is organizing the solidarity clinical trial to create data that can be leveraged to decide which treatments are most effective, if they decrease mortality and hospital stays.

It will have five arms: one standard of care; one Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir; one a combination of lopinavir/ritonavir; another a combination of lopinavir/ritonavir/interferon beta; and the fifth of chloroquine, according to reports. Ten countries are participating to date.

The warning is in response to attention paid to the malaria drug hydroxyl-chloroquine for treatment of COVID-19.

This was largely based on a study published in 2005 that found that chloroquine prevented the replication of the SARS-CoV-1 virus that caused SARS in lab studies.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced distribution of chloroquine phosphate – a malarial drug.

“We have ten thousand units going and it will be distributed to a lot of people in New York City in York,” Trump said a press briefing.

However, WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, argues that using untested medicines without the right evidence could raise false hope:

“Using untested medicines without the right evidence could raise false hope, and even do more harm than good and cause a shortage of essential medicines that are needed to treat other diseases,” Dr. Adhanom stressed.

There are 332, 930 confirmed coronavirus cases and 14, 510 deaths globally, as of Tuesday morning.


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