Coronavirus and antimalarial drugs: Could they prevent COVID-19? Expert weighs in

Coronavirus currently has no specific treatment – the NHS recommends getting lots of rest, drinking plenty of fluids and taking paracetamol or ibuprofen. While ways to treat and prevent COVID-19 are still undergoing research, Donald Trump revealed this week he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine to ward off the virus after he’d “gotten a lot of calls” from medical professionals praising it.


  • Coronavirus symptoms: Two unusual signs to watch out for in children

The UK government has told reporters Trumps’s decision is “not something which our own medical experts are recommending”.

But The Guardian reports the government inviting offers from pharmaceutical companies to provide 16 million tables of hydroxychloroquine.

So is it worth taking the antimalarial drug? Parvinder Sagoo, Pharmacist and Clinical Advisor at SimplyMeds, has advised against it.

He said: “In the UK at least hydroxychloroquine is not considered an antimalarial. It is a drug used to treat rheumatic disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus.

“It is often confused with the antimalarial chloroquine and although it is based on chloroquine it is not the same.

“Evidence shows that use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 does not show any benefit over standard care. It is also not a preventative.”

In a British Medical Journal study, hydroxychloroquine showed a higher incidence of side effects with the most common side effect being diarrhoea. 

Two out of the 150 patients on the study experienced more serious side effects to the treatment.

Sagoo warned: “People should stay away as there is no tangible evidence to support its use. It is more likely to cause adverse effects than treat the infection.

“Patients on the study had better results from the standard care protocol without hydroxychloroquine than those with hydroxycholorquine.”

The best way to prevent the virus right now, said Sagoo, is to keep up your hygiene.

He advised: “Wash your hands regularly. Use alcohol gel when you’re out.


  • Coronavirus symptoms: 11 signs you may have a severe bout of COVID-19

“Make sure you use the appropriate PPE when you’re in enclosed spaces e.g. face masks or shields.

“Still exercise social distancing.”

Common side effects of hydroxychloroquine are gastrointestinal issues, with diarrhoea being the most common.

Overuse of the medicine can cause neurological and psychiatric disorders including seizures, tremor, permanent muscle rigidity, nervousness, psychosis and suicidal behaviour.

Sagoo added: “The drug dose  needs to be adjusted in patients with reduced kidney function.

“Elderly patients naturally over time tend to develop reduced kidney function and are more likely to develop the above side effects with the use of hydroxychloroquine.

“There is a danger that he could develop permanent side effects from prolonged use of the medicine especially if he is not undergoing the appropriate medical monitoring required when initially starting a course of hydroxychloroquine.

“It is not considered and acute medicine.”

Source: Read Full Article