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COVID-19: Why WHO suspends hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir treatment arms

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COVID-19: Why WHO suspends hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir treatment arms

Says drugs produce little or no reduction in mortality

By Chioma Obinna

The World Health Organization, WHO, weekend said it has discontinued the hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir treatment arms for COVID-19 following the result of its interim trial which showed that the drugs produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalised COVID-19 patients when compared to standard of care.

WHO had established the Solidarity Trial to find an effective COVID-19 treatment for hospitalised patients but in a press statement, the health agency announced that it has ‘accepted the recommendation’ from The International Steering Committee to discontinue the trial for hydroxychloroquine, as well as HIV/AIDS medications lopinavir and ritonavir, because they failed to reduce COVID-19 mortality.

The International Steering Committee formulated the recommendation in light of the evidence for hydroxychloroquine vs standard-of-care and for lopinavir/ritonavir vs standard-of-care from the Solidarity trial interim results and from a review of the evidence from all trials presented at the 1-2 July, WHO Summit on COVID-19 research and innovation.

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According to WHO, the Solidarity trial investigators will interrupt the trials with immediate effect.

“For each of the drugs, the interim results do not provide solid evidence of increased mortality. There were, however, some associated safety signals in the clinical laboratory findings of the add-on Discovery trial, a participant in the Solidarity trial. These will also be reported in the peer-reviewed publication.

WHO further explained that: “This decision applies only to the conduct of the Solidarity trial in hospitalized patients and does not affect the possible evaluation in other studies of hydroxychloroquine or lopinavir/ritonavir in non-hospitalized patients or as pre- or post-exposure prophylaxis for COVID-19. The interim Solidarity results are now being readied for peer-reviewed publication.”


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