President Trump confirmed Thursday morning the FDA’s rapid approval of a drug called ‘Chloroquine’ to be prescribed to help treat patients suffering from the Coronavirus.
While far from a cure or vaccine, the treatment can help reduce symptoms and suffering for those with the illness.
“A drug called ‘Chloroquine’ is a common malaria drug. It’s also a drug used for strong arthritis…. It’s been around for a long time, and it’s very powerful. We know that if things don’t go as planned it’s not going to kill anybody.
When you go with a brand new drug you don’t know what’s going to happen,” said the President.
“It’s shown very encouraging results. We’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately. That’s where the FDA has been so great. It’s been approved. They took it down from many months to immediately,” he added.
What do malaria and COVID-19 have in common? On the surface, not much. But according to early research, an old malaria drug called chloroquine might also work for the new coronavirus.
Chloroquine, or hydroxychloroquine, has been used to treat malaria since 1944. It can be given before exposure to malaria to prevent infection, and it can also be given as treatment afterward.
Malaria is a disease that is caused by a parasite, unlike COVID-19. Nevertheless, laboratory studies show chloroquine is effective at preventing as well as treating the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, a close cousin of COVID-19.
Given chloroquine’s effectiveness in treating SARS, scientists have investigated if it will be an effective treatment against the new coronavirus responsible for COVID-19. So far, the initial trials are encouraging.
“There is evidence that chloroquine is effective when they looked at SARS in vitro with primate cells,” said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonologist and internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
“The theory of the experiment with primate cells was that chloroquine could be for preventing viral infection or as a treatment for viral infection after it had occurred. In vitro in these primate cells, there was evidence that viral particles were significantly reduced when chloroquine was used.”
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.
Researchers in China found that treating patients with COVID-19-associated pneumonia with chloroquine may shorten their hospital stay and improve the patient’s outcome.
There are more than 20 ongoing clinical trials in China and more scheduled to start in England, Thailand, South Korea and the United States.-ABC news reported.