What is the Trump-endorsed drug being trialled for UK Covid-19 treatment?

A global trial involving UK health workers of an anti-malarial drug to test its efficacy against the coronavirus comes after Donald Trump said he had begun taking hydroxychloroquine. Scientists have condemned the use of the drug, which President Trump has championed despite it having not been approved for this purpose outside research or hospital settings. It is a derivative of chloroquine, which is also used to treat malaria and will also be trialled as part of the trial led by Oxford University. Dr Stephen Griffin, associate professor in the School of Medicine, University of Leeds, said: “Hydroxychloroquine is not licensed for the treatment or prevention of Covid-19 by the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration), or any other agency. “In fact the weight of evidence from most recent patient trials shows it to be ineffective, with the potential for adverse side effects including those affecting the heart.” The FDA did issue an emergency use authorisation to allow the drug to be provided to certain hospital patients, but has since warned against the drug’s use outside clinical trials or hospital settings due to the risk of heart rhythm problems. He said hydroxychloroquine was prescribed and monitored carefully due to potential side effects, and as such people following Mr Trump’s example could “endanger themselves”. Meanwhile, former Government chief scientific adviser Sir David King, said of Mr Trump: “Every word he says should be ignored in terms of advice. Chinese researchers recently wrote that hydroxychloroquine is one of a number of drugs being investigated as a Covid-19 treatment based on promising lab results and therapeutic experiences with other coronavirus diseases. In mid-April, the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) said it was aware of 142 trials registered in various national and international databases involving chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, alone, or in combination. The University of Minnesota in the US has launched a clinical trial on whether hydroxychloroquine can prevent people catching coronavirus. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also included chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine among drugs being prioritised under its global Solidarity Trial – an international study bringing together various nations’ efforts to test potential coronavirus treatments. Italian doctors have highlighted that ethics and the availability of drugs needs to be considered as part of any attempt of the widespread use of anti-malarials in the fight against coronavirus.

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