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COVID trial drug shows strong safety response, study finds

COVID trial drug shows strong safety response, study finds

A commonly used drug should be safe in trials to prevent COVID-19, a study has reported.

A review of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine pharmacology suggests doses in COVID-19 prevention trials are safe, the study published by University of Oxford-affiliated researchers in PLoS Medicine found.

The trials include COPCOV, a global study into whether the drugs can prevent COVID-19 in healthcare workers.

Hydroxychloroquine does not benefit patients hospitalised with COVID-19, research has found. But it is not known if it can prevent the infection.

Study co-author Prof Joel Tarning, Head of Clinical Pharmacology at the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, said:  “There has been a lot of concern that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine might be toxic, but using pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic information from healthy volunteers, patients with malaria and those with rheumatological diseases, as well as people who intentionally took overdoses, we show that the doses used in COVID-19 prevention and most treatment trials are very likely to be safe.”

Used for over 60 years to treat malaria, amoebic liver abscess and rheumatological conditions like lupus, billions of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine treatments have been given.

These drugs have recently been shown in the laboratory to kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Study co-author Prof Sir Nick White, Co-Principal Investigator of the Oxford-led COPCOV clinical trial, said: “I don’t know if hydroxychloroquine can prevent COVID-19 or not.

“But I do know that we really need to find out, and quickly. All the negative publicity has naturally made people reluctant to enrol in studies. We could be waiting a long time for an effective vaccine.”

For information about taking part in COPCOV visit www.copcov.org.