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Researchers at the University of Oxford have said hydroxychloroquine could still be a viable COVID-19 treatment

Published on 07/08/20 at 11:37am
U.S. Army photo by Jason W. Edwards

Researchers at the University of Oxford have said that hydroxychloroquine could be beneficial to COVID-19 patients, despite a general lack of evidence for its effectiveness.           

The Oxford researchers and the Wellcome supported Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) are leading the COPCOV study. This is currently the only global clinical trial testing hydroxcychloroquine in COVID-19 patients as a treatment for the virus. This study contains 40,000 healthcare workers and it is being compared to a placebo.

The researchers are maintaining that previous studies were not large enough to be conclusive while they also believe safety concerns have been exaggerated. They maintain that the drug doesn’t actually increase the risk of heart arrhythmias and say that it can actually reduce the risk of this condition.

Sir Nick White, COPCOV co-principal investigator, said: “Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have a very good safety record in the treatment of malaria and rheumatological conditions over the past 60 years. Billions of treatments have been given.”

Sir Jeremy Farrar, the Director of the Wellcome Trust, said the large-scale trial is important because: “There is no guarantee that we’ll soon have a widely available vaccine against COVID-19. Despite all the publicity, we still do not know if hydroxychloroquine can prevent COVID-19, but it’s really important that we find out, one way or the other.”

Last month, Oxford was also involved in another hydroxychloroquine trial separate from COPCOV. Known as the RECOVERY trial, the study showed that the drug had no benefit on hospitalised patients with the virus, with a quarter of NHS patients died from COVID-19 compared to 23.5% who were not prescribed the drug.

Conor Kavanagh

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