WHO suspends tests on virus treatment drug

WHO suspends tests on virus treatment drug
Decision to suspend trials of hydroxychloroquine had been taken out of "an abundance of caution". Source: EPA
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Daily US Times: The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news conference on Monday that the organization has temporarily suspended testing of hydroxychloroquine- a malaria drug – as a potential treatment for COVID-19 as a precautionary measure.

Meanwhile, in the same virtual news conference, head of the WHO emergencies programme Mike Ryan warned that the world is “right in the middle of the first wave” of the outbreak, and there could be a second peak within the wave.

The statement comes days after the US President Donald Trump publicly acknowledged he had been taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure against the virus. He had long touted its benefits as a possible treatment for COVID-19, though the President has said he has since stopped taking the drug.

Tedros said: “The executive group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity trial while the safety data is reviewed by the data safety monitoring board.”

The WHO had previously recommended against using hydroxychloroquine to treat or prevent coronavirus infections, except as part of clinical trials.

The decision to suspend trials of hydroxychloroquine had been taken out of “an abundance of caution”, Ryan added.

Officials said other arms of the WHO’s so-called “Solidarity Trial” – a large international initiative to hold clinical tests of potential treatments for the virus – would continue.

Mr Ryan also said that he has been in daily discussions with China about the origins of the coronavirus, but added that there was still currently no date set for a scientific mission to the country.

Australia and the US have been the most vocal proponents of such an investigation, and have accused Beijing of not being transparent.

In recent weeks, President Trump and other high US officials have also pushed the theory that the virus emerged from a lab in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak began, the claim China strongly denies.

China said it would be open to an independent examination after the pandemic has been brought under control worldwide.

Member states passed a resolution during last week’s World Health Assembly, calling for a probe into the international response to the pandemic. The call was an intentionally broad mission which would include examinations of the responses of the WHO and individual countries.

To date, over 345,000 people died globally with more than 5.4 million infections have been confirmed worldwide since the virus first emerged in December of last year.

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