The World Health Organisation, WHO, has “temporarily” suspended clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19 being carried out across a range of countries as a precautionary measure.
WHO’s Chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference that the decision came after the publication of a study in the Lancet last week indicated that using the drug on COVID-19 patients could increase their likelihood of dying, adding that WHO-backed trials had been “suspended while the safety is reviewed.”
“The executive group has implemented a temporary pause of hydroxychloroquine arm within the solidarity trial while the safety data is reviewed by the data safety monitoring board,” Tedros told an online briefing.
He said the other arms of the trial – a major international initiative to hold clinical tests of potential treatments for the virus – were continuing.
WHO had previously recommended against using hydroxychloroquine to treat or prevent coronavirus infections, except as part of clinical trials.
Hydroxychloroquine, touted by U.S President, Donald Trump, as a treatment, was linked to an increased risk of death and heart ailments.
WHO’s Chief Scientist, Soumya Swaminathan said at a press briefing in Geneva that “it is important to continue to gather evidence on the efficacy and safety of hydroxychloroquine. We want to use it if it is safe and efficacious, reduces mortality, reduces the length of hospitalization without increasing adverse events.”
Head of WHO’s Emergencies Programme, Dr. Mike Ryan, said the decision to suspend trials of hydroxychloroquine had been taken out of “an abundance