The World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday that a clinical trial of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine on Covid-19 patients came to “a temporary pause” while the safety data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board.
According to the WHO chief, the medical journal, The Lancet has on Friday published an observational study on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine and its effects on Covid-19 patients that have been hospitalised.
The authors of the study reported that among patients receiving the drug, when used alone or with a macrolide, they estimated a higher mortality rate.
“The Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial, representing 10 of the participating countries, met on Saturday and has agreed to review a comprehensive analysis and critical appraisal of all evidence available globally,” Tedros told a virtual press conference.
The review will consider data collected so far in the Solidarity Trial and in particular robust randomised available data, to adequately evaluate the potential benefits and harms from this drug, he said.
“The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the safety data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board. The other arms of the trial are continuing,” Tedros added.
WHO initiated the Solidarity Trial, a plan to evaluate the safety and efficacy of four drugs and drug combinations against Covid-19 more than two months ago, which include hydroxychloroquine.
According to the WHO, over 400 hospitals in 35 countries are actively recruiting patients and nearly 3,500 patients have been enrolled from 17 countries under the Solidarity Trial.
Tedros added that the safety concern over the drug-related only to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in Covid-19, and “these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.”
“WHO will provide further updates as we know more,” he said.