WHO official says malaria drug won’t stop Covid-19 deaths

The World Health Organisation’s top scientist says it’s now been definitively proven that the cheap malaria drug hydroxychloroquine – the drug favoured by President Donald Trump – doesn’t work in stopping deaths among people hospitalized with the new coronavirus.

But Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said there could still be a role for the drug in preventing people from catching Covid-19 in the first place and noted that clinical trials testing hydroxychloroquine’s role in this are ongoing.

Swaminathan said in a press briefing on Thursday that there is still a gap in determining whether hydroxychloroquine has a role at all in prevention or minimizing the severity of the illness in early infection or even in preventing it.

She says: “We don”t know that as yet. And we need to complete those large trials and get the data,” she said, referring to several other trials not being conducted by WHO.

The UN health agency announced this week that it is suspending the hydroxychloroquine arm of its own trial testing various experimental therapies for Covid-19, referring to previous results from a large UK trial and a separate analysis of evidence on the drug.

The other drugs being tested by WHO, including treatments used in the past for Ebola and AIDS, are still being pursued.

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