WHO pauses trial of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients due to safety concerns

The World Health Organization has suspended clinical trials of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19 due to safety concerns, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

“The executive group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity trial while the safety data is reviewed by the data safety monitoring board,” Tedros said in an online media briefing.

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The decision came after the publication last week of a study in the Lancet indicating that using the drug on COVID-19 patients could increase their likelihood of dying, Tedros said.

Hydroxychloroquine has been touted by Donald Trump and others as a possible treatment for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Trump has said he was taking the drug to help prevent infection.

The WHO has previously recommended against using hydroxychloroquine to treat or prevent coronavirus infections, except as part of clinical trials.

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