Coronavirus Task Force: Existing malaria medication could be used for virus treatment

Saturday, 21 Mar, 2020

US President said, a drug now used as an antimalarial, hydroxychloroquine would be made available nearly immediately to treat coronavirus.

They did not know the anti-malaria drug was severely unsafe, much less lethal. The FDA is reviewing drugs that have already been approved overseas or in the US for other uses.

Hydroxychloroquine is more commonly prescribed because it is generally believed to cause fewer side effects, whereas chloroquine has a reputation for more serious side effects but may be prescribed in situations where hydroxychloroquine can not be used.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday urged Congress to pass a $1 trillion economic relief measure by early next week, adding the government was focused on being able to provide liquidity to companies.

Lab studies (including research published in Virology Journal in 2005) show that chloroquine is effective at preventing as well as treating the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which is caused by another strain of coronavirus.

But regulators say the drug still can't treat COVID-19. Testing in the USA lags dramatically behind other developed nations, and states still say they can not conduct wide-scale testing because they don't have the swabs or other materials necessary to process them.

TRUMP: "If chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine works, or any of the other things that they're looking at that are not quite as far out. your numbers are going to come down very rapidly".

Trump said the government will likely offer financial aid to the airlines, hotel and cruise line industries.

Trump touted the drug and said it could soon be used widely for the coronavirus. Previously, remdesivir was used to treat humans with Ebola. Clinical trials on about 130 patients demonstrated the drug's ability to reduce the severity of the illness and speed up virus clearance, according to China's Ministry of Sciences and Technology. We know if things do not go as planned, it isn't going to kill anybody.

Drug trials typically require hundreds or thousands of patients and, even when accelerated, take weeks or months to complete.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said that, while the antimalarials have not yet been formally approved, access was being expanded so that authorities could gather more data.

"We need to make sure the new treatments will get the right drug to the right patients at the right dosage at the right time". "It is key because if the drug works, [it] may be available for a lot more people".

"Its use in the treatment of HIV-infected patients has been considered inconclusive and the drug has not been included in the panel recommended for HIV treatment", they wrote.

"We've not seen significant mortality in children", she said.

Kaletra, a combination HIV treatment and the generic blood pressure drug losartan, have been considered as potential treatments for the virus, although Chinese investigators reported this week that Kaletra failed to improve outcomes for seriously ill COVID-19 patients.