‘100% of patients’: Cautious optimism when readily used drug shows promising results with coronavirus

Early laboratory research is reportedly showing that an old malaria drug might be useful in combating the new coronavirus.

A decades-old malaria drug called chloroquine, or hydroxychloroquine, has been targeted as a possible cure or treatment for the viral illness which has claimed the lives of over 9,000 people worldwide, according to the latest numbers from Johns Hopkins University.

In a recent peer-reviewed study, 100 percent of those treated with the drug used to treat malaria since 1944 were “virologically” cured, according to Gregory Rigano, an adviser to the Stanford University School of Medicine, who spoke with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson about the latest development.

Researchers in France reportedly completed a clinical trial testing chloroquine on patients with COVID-19 and Rigano claimed on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Wednesday that it is the second 100 percent cure for a virus ever found, urging President Trump to “authorize the use of hydroxychloroquine against coronavirus immediately.”

Carlson was a bit skeptical.

“I only know what you’re telling me, but I do know that it’s very unusual for a study of anything to produce results of 100 percent. I mean, that’s remarkable, isn’t it or am I missing something?” he asked.

“That is remarkable,” Rigano replied.

The study Rigano referred to used results from research by a team led by Didier Raoult, an infectious disease expert from l’Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire in Marseille, France. The findings from that study were published on Wednesday.

A total of 26 coronavirus patients were treated with chloroquine in that test, and six were also given the antibiotic azithromycin. After six days, the patients treated with chloroquine and azithromycin tested negative for the coronavirus. Meanwhile, 57.1% of those treated with just hydroxychloroquine tested negative.

“Despite its small sample size our survey shows that hydroxychloroquine treatment is significantly associated with viral load reduction/disappearance in COVID-19 patients and its effect is reinforced by azithromycin,” the study said.

“If clinical data confirm the biological results, the novel coronavirus-associated disease will have become one of the simplest and cheapest to treat and prevent among infectious respiratory diseases,” Raoult and other French researchers wrote in an article in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents published last month.

ABC News reported on the effectiveness of the drug in treating the virus which causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which was referred to as “a close cousin of COVID-19.”

According to ABC News:

Both the virus that causes SARS and the virus responsible for COVID-19 belong to the same overarching family of coronaviruses. Researchers in China discovered that the protein spikes on the surface of the COVID-19 virus are similar to the protein spikes found on the surface of the SARS virus.

People become infected when those protein spikes bind to special receptors on the outside of human cells. Chloroquine works by interfering with those receptors, which may interfere with the virus’s ability to bind to cells.

 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the drug may be “worth considering.”

Others, including infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci, have cautioned against considering one drug as a cure for coronavirus while many note that chloroquine could prevent keep some patients from needing to go to the hospital.

“All we have is some preclinical rationale and some mechanistic rationale, but no hard randomized clinical data yet,”  Steven Seedhouse, a biotech analyst at Raymond James, said. “I think it’s appropriate to be cautious on chloroquine and anything else.”

Frieda Powers

Senior Staff Writer
[email protected]

Originally from New York, Powers graduated from New York University and eventually made her way to sunny South Florida where she has been writing for the BizPacReview team since 2015.
Frieda Powers

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