The World Health Organisation on Monday “temporarily paused” the trial of antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine for treatment of Covid-19.
The drug has been repeatedly endorsed by world leaders including US President Donald Trump as a possible answer to fight against COVID-19
According to the WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who said that new finds have shown harmful side effects of hydroxychloroquine, including heart problems.
“The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during an online briefing.
Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist, said the organization’s own investigators and regulators in individual nations have raised enough red flags about hydroxychloroquine to prompt this halt.
“So the steering committee met over the weekend and decided that in the light of this uncertainty, that we should be proactive, err on the side of caution, and suspend enrollment, temporarily, into the hydroxychloroquine arm,” she said.
A study published in the The Lancet medical journal said that the use of the drug increased the risk of death by 34 per cent and a 137 per cent increased risk of serious heart arrhythmias.
“Our large-scale, international, real-world analysis supports the absence of a clinical benefit of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine and points to potential harm in hospitalised patients with COVID-19,” said the authors of the study.
The same study concluded that patients receiving hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic faced a 45 per cent increased risk of death and a 411 per cent increased risk of serious heart arrhythmias.