A common drug used to treat malaria might be the cure to COVID-19 until a vaccine is developed, doctors and researchers around the world say.
Doctors in Australia, France and elsewhere say they’ve had success treating coronavirus patients with hydroxychloroquine, a readily available drug that treats malaria, lupus and arthritis.
A French study with a small sample size showed it to be 100 percent effective. In Australia, a University of Queensland study that used the anti-malaria drug in combination with an anti-HIV drug also was highly effective. The Queensland team is now using the drugs in a clinical trial.
“Prior to the clinical trials going ahead, the medications were given to some of the first Australian patients infected with COVID-19, and all have completely recovered without any trace of the virus left in their system,” David Paterson of the University of Queensland said in a press release.
“These medications have the potential to be a real cure for all, unlike the random anecdotal experiences of some people.”
The university’s press release called it a “coronavirus cure.”
The French study, led by researcher Didier Raoult and his team, has received worldwide attention. In it, six COVID-19 patients were given Plaquenil – a brand-name hydroxychloroquine drug – in tandem with the antibiotic drug azithromycin, Forbes reported. All six patients tested negative for COVID-19 by day six.
“If clinical data confirm the biological results, the novel coronavirus-associated disease will have become one of the simplest and cheapest to treat and prevent among infectious respiratory diseases,” Raoult and his team wrote in a March research journal.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force, said the U.S. federal government is “exploring” the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine. President Trump, she said, “asked for a critical briefing” this week on the drug.
“It is more than that single drug,” she said. “There are other drugs that individuals are looking at. … Of course, there’s always anecdotal reports and we’re trying to figure out how many anecdotal reports equal real scientific breakthroughs.”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.