WHO Suspends Coronavirus Hydroxychloroquine Trial
The World Health Organization (WHO) has provisionally suspended testing of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for COVID-19 as a prudent measure, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced during a news conference on Monday.
Meantime, Mike Ryan, head of the WHO emergencies programme, informed in the same virtual news conference that, despite countries reducing lockdowns, the world is “right in the centre of the first wave” of the outbreak, and a there could be a second peak within the wave.
The announcements come days after US President Donald Trump stated he had been taking hydroxychloroquine as a precautionary measure against the virus. The president, who has stated he has since discontinued taking medicine, had long praised its advantages as a possible remedy for COVID-19 even as health specialists advised it might not be reliable.
“The executive association has implemented a temporary suspension of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity trial while the data safety monitoring board evaluates the safety data,” Tedros said in the online briefing.
The WHO had earlier advised against using hydroxychloroquine to treat or prevent coronavirus diseases, except as part of clinical trials.
Ryan added the decision to cease trials of hydroxychloroquine had been carried out of “an abundance of warning”.
Other arms of the WHO’s so-called “Solidarity Trial” – a massive international initiative to hold clinical tests of potential medications for the virus – would proceed, the officials stated.
To date, more than 5.4 million cases have been confirmed globally since the virus first appeared in December of last year, with over 345,000 deaths around the world.
Despite a seeming downward trend in new deaths and cases in several hard-hit countries, Ryan advised countries across the world to remain alert.
WHO Warns of ‘Second Peak’ in Areas Where COVID-19 Declining
Countries, where coronavirus infections are declining, could still face an “immediate second peak” if they lull timely on measures to halt the outbreak, the earth Health Organization said on Monday.
The world remains within the centre of the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak, WHO emergencies head Dr Mike Ryan told an internet briefing, noting that while cases are declining in many countries, they’re still increasing in Central and South America, South Asia and Africa.
Ryan said epidemics often are available waves, which suggests that outbreaks could come later this year in places where the primary wave has subsided. There was also an opportunity that infection rates could rise again more quickly if measures to halt the primary wave were lifted timely.
“When we discuss a second wave classically what we often mean is there will be a primary wave of the disease by itself, then it recurs months later. And that could also be a reality for several countries during several months,” Ryan said.
“We also require to be aware of the very fact that the disease can leap up at any moment,” he said. “We cannot make suppositions that just because the disease is on the way falling now, it’s getting to keep taking place and that we get many months to organize for a second wave. We may get a second peak during this wave.”
He said countries in Europe and North America should “continue to put in place the overall public health and social measures, the surveillance measures, the testing measures and a comprehensive strategy to ensure that we continue on a downwards trajectory and that we don’t have an instantaneous second peak.”
Many European countries and U.S. states have taken steps in recent weeks to lift lockdown measures that curbed the spread of the disease but caused severe harm to economies.