The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Wednesday that clinical trials of the drug hydroxychloroquine will resume as it searches for potential coronavirus treatments.
On May 25, the WHO announced it had temporarily suspended the trials to conduct a safety review, which has now concluded there is “no reason” to change the way the trials are conducted.
The UN health agency’s decision came after a study published in The Lancet medical journal suggesting the drug could increase the risk of death among COVID-19 patients.
The executive group of the so-called Solidarity Trial—in which hundreds of hospitals across the world have enrolled patients to test several possible treatments for the novel coronavirus—took the decision as a precaution.
Hydroxychloroquine is normally used to treat arthritis but public figures including US President Donald Trump have backed the drug for COVID-19 prevention and treatment, prompting governments to bulk-buy.
“Last week, the executive group of the Solidarity Trial decided to implement a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm of the trial, because of concerns raised about the safety of the drug,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news briefing.
“This decision was taken as a precaution while the safety data were reviewed.
“The data safety and monitoring committee of the Solidarity Trial has been reviewing the data.
“On the basis of the available mortality data, the members of the committee recommended that there are no reasons to modify the trial protocol.
“The executive group received this recommendation and endorsed continuation of all arms of the Solidarity Trial, including hydroxychloroquine.
“The executive group will communicate with the principal investigators in the trial about resuming the hydroxychloroquine arm of the trial.
“The data safety and monitoring committee will continue to closely monitor the safety of all therapeutics being tested in the Solidarity Trial”.
More than 3,500 patients have been recruited across 35 countries to take part in the trials.
The W.H.O. decision comes after the publication of the Friday study in the medical journal “The Lancet”, which considered that resorting to chloroquine or its derivatives such as hydroxychloroquine to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic caused by the emerging coronavirus is not “effective and could be harmful”.
For its part, the Algerian Ministry of Health refused to stop this treatment protocol, which has been administered to more than 16 thousand infected patients and those people suspected of having contracted the virus since last March.
During the last meeting of the Council of Ministers, Minister of Health Abderahmane Benbouzid confirmed the emergence of positive indicators thanks to the activation and strengthening of a series of health measures, among them the protocol of treatment adopted since March 23rd, which has proven effective, as 98.2% of the infected patients recovered, out of more than 16 thousand cases under treatment.