New China study adds momentum for using antimalarial drug to treat coronavirus

Small China study shows drug touted by President Trump appears to help COVID-19 patients.

Tablets containing hydroxychloroquine
(GERARD JULIEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Last Updated:
April 1, 2020 - 10:58pm

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Evidence that hydroxychloroquine is effective in treating coronavirus patients keeps growing, as a small study in China found COVID-19 patients who were administered the antimalarial drug improved.

The study of 62 patients at Wuhan University's hospital from January to March showed those given the drug, most with mild to moderate symptoms, improved compared to those who did not receive the treatment.

"Despite our small number of cases, the potential of HCQ in the treatment of COVID-19 has been partially confirmed," the researchers reported in a study published this week in the medical Web site medRXiv.

"Considering that there is no better option at present, it is a promising practice to apply HCQ to COVID-19 under reasonable management," the researchers added. "However, Large-scale clinical and basic research is still needed to clarify its specific mechanism and to continuously optimize the treatment plan."

The study bolsters one published a few weeks ago in France and adds credence to President Trump's optimism that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine may become transformational treatments in the current pandemic.

The study still needs to be peer reviewed, but an expert told The New York Times it will add momentum to the move to get the two antimalarial drugs into larger use in treating coronavirus patients.

"It’s going to send a ripple of excitement out through the treating community,” Vanderbilt University infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner told the newspaper.

The Food and Drug Administration gave approval this past weekend for using the drug in hospitals for COVID-19 patients.

You can read the full report here.