Sir Jeremy Farrar said today that the President’s enthusiasm for hydroxychloroquine has hindered global efforts to find Covid-19 treatments
Donald Trump’s approval of hydroxychloroquine as a miracle cure for coronavirus has slowed global efforts to fight the disease, a scientist from the British government suggested today.
Sir Jeremy Farrar suggested that the US President’s enthusiasm for the antimalarial drug – which has now been proven to have no effect on Covid-19 patients – “has slowed and slowed our progress in developing treatments.”
Trump first praised hydroxychloroquine in April, saying there were “ very strong signs ” that it could treat the viral illness based on limited anecdotal reports from U.S. doctors and poor studies.
But last month, the Recovery study from Oxford University, the largest in the world, stopped enrolling participants in the hydroxychloroquine arm after concluding there was no clinical benefit.
President Trump has also admitted to using the drug as a preventative therapy, to prevent him from getting infected with the disease in the first place. Trials are currently underway to see if the tablets can work this way.
Sir Jeremy, a member of Downing Street’s Scientific Emergency Group (Sage), said that from more than a thousand clinical studies of Covid-19 treatments around the world, 16 percent look at hydroxychloroquine.
He told a Chatham House briefing that it “made no sense” and blamed politicians for making statements about “certain drugs” that turned out to be untrue and hindered the progress of other potential therapies.
Trump first praised hydroxyhcloroquine in April, saying there were ‘very strong signs’ that it could treat the viral illness based on very limited anecdotal reports from US doctors
It has since been proven that the antimalarial drug has no effect on Covid-19 patients
Only one drug – the £ 5 steroid dexamethasone – has been convincingly proven to treat coronavirus. Remedivir for Ebola is approved for the treatment of patients, but the evidence is still mixed.
The Recovery study found that it reduced the risk of death by 35 percent for patients who depended on respiratory equipment – the most dangerously ill – and a fifth for all patients who needed oxygen at any one time.
Sir Jeremy said today, “I think there are currently 1,200 clinical studies in progress worldwide, of which 16 percent are looking at chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine. That does not make sense. ‘
He suggested that politicians’ statements regarding drugs, which were ultimately untrue, slowed and slowed our progress in developing treatments. But in particular he did not name politicians.
Sir Jeremy, who is also director of the Wellcome Trust, a London-based research charity, claimed that too many trials with potential treatments were too small to show definitive results.
He praised the Recovery trial – which has recruited 11,000 trialists – and the World Health Organization’s Solidarity trial, which has 5,000 volunteers.
But he added, “A lot of the trials, and I think the clinical community here should take a hard look at ourselves, a lot of the trials are too small.
“I think 40 percent will enroll less than 100 patients. It is very unlikely that you will provide definitive evidence of the efficacy and safety of treatment in less than 100 patients.
VACCINNATIONALISM ‘HAS NO PLACE’ IN THE COVID-19 FIGHT
Sir Jeremy Farrar, who is a member of the Scientific Emergency Group (Sage), also warned against ‘nationalism’ when it comes to treatments and a vaccine.
He said the pandemic will hit us all “until every country manages to send a way through it,” adding, “So there’s no point in being nationalistic, there’s no point in saying,” I have my vaccine. in America and no one else will have it “because that won’t work, and it won’t really protect the Americans.
“Vaccine nationalism, therapeutic nationalism, does not belong in enlightened self-interest and should be seen as global public goods.”
His comments come after Donald Trump was accused earlier this month of “ undermining ” the global Covid-19 battle by splashing money on one of only two drugs approved to treat the disease on the NHS.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) has revealed that it has received over 500,000 remedial courses for U.S. hospitals.
It represented full July global supply and 90 percent of stocks for August and September, leading to fears of a fall shortage.
“You have to do things on a large scale such as have done recovery and solidarity, and minor trials will often not help and will often be politicized, as we have seen in this epidemic, where politicians unfortunately made statements about certain drugs that turned out to be untrue and I think we’ve slowed and slowed our progress in developing treatments. ‘
Last month, scientists at Oxford University withdrew the controversial drug from the Recovery study after the results showed that it was of no benefit to patients hospitalized with the virus.
A quarter of the NHS patients who received hydroxychloroquine died of Covid-19, compared with 23.5 percent who were not prescribed the drug.
The scientists who conducted the trial said the results were “pretty compelling” and added, “This is not a treatment that works.”
Professor Martin Landray, lead author of the study, added, “If you’re hospitalized with Covid – you, your mom, or anyone else – hydroxychloroquine isn’t the right treatment. It does not work. ‘
He called on doctors around the world to stop using the drug, which can cause a slew of unpleasant side effects, including arrhythmias, headaches, and vomiting.
But Professor Landray said the results don’t necessarily mean that the tablets can’t prevent people from contracting Covid-19 in the first place, which several studies are still investigating.
The first results of hydroxychloroquine from the RECOVERY study were not to be released until July.
But the study’s lead investigators said they felt compelled to release the data and set the record straight on the drug, which was at the center of the furious debate.
It comes after another study that last week claimed that hydroxychloroquine may increase survival rates for some coronavirus patients.
Hospitalized coronavirus patients who received hydroxychloroquine were 50 percent less likely to die from the relentless infection than those who did not receive the drug.
President Trump’s chief economic adviser, Peter Navarro, claimed that the US could have “saved tens of thousands of lives” if they had used the drug from the start.
But critics beat the Henry Ford Health System’s retrospective analysis of 2,541 people, saying it wasn’t a randomized study – the gold standard type of scientific evidence.
Experts warned that more of the hydroxychloroquine group received steroids, suggesting that dangerous inflammation is being fought in coronavirus patients.
WHY IS HYDROXY-CHLOROQUINE CONTROVERSIAL?
Hydroxychloroquine – branded as Plaquenil – is an inexpensive drug that has been used for decades to prevent malaria and treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
It was touted as a miracle cure by Donald Trump, although there was no evidence that it could treat Covid-19.
Hope arose early in the crisis when a French study suggested that the drug may have both antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects.
It sparked a wave of research around the world, Trump’s approval, and emergency authorization from U.S. regulators.
The RECOVERY trial is the first randomized trial to provide concrete evidence about the drug.
The results are likely to have a knock-on effect around the world, with tens of thousands of coronavirus patients still being prescribed hydroxychloroquine.
Leading doctors have also warned that the drug can cause serious side effects and even shed the process that makes the heart beat in time.
A trial in Brazil was briefly discontinued because so many of the enrolled coronavirus patients who received the drug developed these arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats).
According to WebMD, side effects can include:
- Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, dizziness or headache
- Slow heart rate, heart failure symptoms (such as shortness of breath, swollen ankles / feet, unusual tiredness, unusual / sudden weight gain)
- Mental / mood changes (such as anxiety, depression, rare thoughts of suicide, hallucinations)
- Hearing changes (such as ringing in the ears, hearing loss), easy bruising / bleeding
- Signs of infection or liver disease
- Muscle weakness, unwanted / uncontrolled movements (including twitching of the tongue / face), hair loss, hair / skin color changes
- Low blood sugar, severe dizziness, fainting, fast / irregular heartbeat, seizures.