President Donald Trump has pointedly approved malaria drugs Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of coronavirus, but top health specialists are not too convinced that the president should be heeded. Reports from China, South Korea, and France indicate that doctors have experimentally used ancient malaria drugs to cure people infected with COVID-19 with significant effectiveness.
“This is prescribed for many years for people to combat malaria, which was a big problem and it’s very effective,” Trump said. “It was a strong drug. I sure as hell think we ought to give it a try.”
But Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, expressed reservations about using the drugs to treat coronavirus in the United States. The nation’s leading infectious disease expert stands for science but his boss the president stands for opinion. Fauci, however, made it clear that while the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine may be effective against coronavirus, its effectiveness is purely anecdotal.
Chloroquine has been used for malaria treatment for over 50 years, and it is also prescribed by doctors for patients suffering from lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It lowers the risk of dying from lupus and also prevents organ damage associated with ulcerative skin disease. Hydroxychloroquine is a less-toxic derivative of chloroquine – malaria drug-related to quinine, a bitter alkaloid extracted from chinchona bark.
French and Chinese as well as South Korean doctors who have employed chloroquine to treat COVID-19 even tout the effectiveness of azithromycin as a combination for coronavirus.
“We, therefore, recommend that COVID-19 patients be treated with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin to cure their infection and to limit the transmission of the virus to other people in order to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the world,” French scientists wrote.
The only problem which American doctors have with using these malaria drugs for COVID-19 is that foreign researchers tested its effectiveness for COVID-19 in only 26 patients – a very small sample size for any meaningful and reliable medical research. But President Trump endorses these drugs for coronavirus treatment by name, and his approval has sparked a global rush for the purchase of the medications which can be bought over the shelf.
With the rush to buy the drugs for COVID-19, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are now running out in pharmacies, making it real scarce for lupus and rheumatoid arthritic patients who really need it for their medical conditions. Meanwhile, chloroquine manufacturers such as Rising Pharmaceuticals, Teva, Mylan, and even German company Bayer have promised to ramp up production and also vowed to donate large quantities to the US government.