Countries around the world are increasing access to hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and chloroquine (CQ), and similar compounds that are synthetic versions of quinine, which originates from cinchona trees and has been used to treat malaria for decades. HQ, which is the least toxic of both, is being used as an anti-inflammatory drug to treat disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
In February, China used chloroquine (CQ) on a 134-patient COVID-19 trial, finding it was successful in reducing the incidence of the disease. In France, an IHU-Mediterranee infection team led by Didier Raoult, Marseille announced recently that they had performed a study on 36 COVID-19 patients, finding that HCQ significantly reduced the viral load in a group that were administered with the drug. It was also noted that in laboratory settings, HCQ and CQ drugs have been shown to work against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
However, experts caution people to not get their hopes high as promise does not equal fact. According to Anthony Fauci, head of infectious diseases at the US National Institutes of Health, the few studies conducted out so far equate to “anecdotal” evidence.
A small Chinese study of 30 patients also released recently found that HCQ was no better than regular treatment, which means treating the symptoms by bed rest, fluids, and so on. Randomized clinical trials are the only way to discover for sure if this HCQ treatent could actually work, scientists claim.