Australian hydroxychloroquine trial to treat Covid-19 under review after WHO safety concern

The board responsible for monitoring the safety of the trial was meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss the future of the study. However, the findings from the Lancet and other studies, including one which found higher mortality rates in severely ill hospital patients given hydroxychloroquine, prompted the World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to halt the hydroxychloroquine arm of the international “Solidarity Trial”. The randomised control trial is exploring whether hydroxychloroquine in combination or on its own can treat Covid-19 patients and prevent deterioration in their condition. “The department will be updating its advice that hydroxychloroquine use in treating Covid-19 is strongly discouraged including in hospitalised patients unless the patient is enrolled in a clinical trial, noting that currently numbers hospitalised in Australia are very low, at this stage only 30, and there are fewer than 500 active cases across Australia,” he said. Professor Marc Pellegrini, the lead investigator of Australia’s Covid Shield clinical trial to determine whether hydroxychloroquine can prevent the virus, said careful consideration had been given to the evidence. “We have taken the advice of the authors of that paper who emphasise their study must be cautiously interpreted and must not be generalised with regard to the treatment (or prophylaxis) of people who are not unwell,” he said.