More encouraging results in preliminary use of Hydroxychloroquine in treatment of coronavirus on 36 COVID-19 patients, French researcher Didier Raoult says
As researchers and scientists around the world work day and night to find cure for the deadly coronavirus, we reported late yesterday a piece of good news coming out of France. In a new controlled clinical study conducted in France, doctors found that Hydroxychloroquine is effective in the fight against coronavirus.
The study, which was conducted by renowned research professor Didier Raoult M.D/Ph.D, et. al in Marseille, France, showed that 100% of patients that received a combination of HCQ and Azithromycin tested negative and were virologically cured within 6 days of treatment. Prof. Raoult had been tasked by the French government to research possible treatments of Covid-19. Prof. Raoult is a French biologist. He holds MD and Ph.D. degrees and specializes in infectious diseases. In 1984, he created the Rickettsia Unit at Aix-Marseille University (AMU). He also teaches infectious diseases in the Faculty of Medicine of Aix-Marseille University, and since 1982 has supervised many M.D. and Ph.D. degrees.
Prof. Raoult is one of the main proponents for using hydroxychloroquine to treat infection with the novel coronavirus. However, the hypothesis Prof. Raoult and others on his team, was dismissed by other eminent infectious disease specialists, who deemed the data to be insufficient and dismissed as fake news recently by the Ministry of Health.
Today, however, Prof. Didier Raoult released additional encouraging results of a preliminary trial involving a total of 36 COVID-19 patients. In a paper, which is yet to be released to the public, Prof. Didier Raoult and his team of scientists and researchers treated 20 of these patients with 600 milligrams of hydroxychloroquine daily in a hospital setting between early and mid-March. Depending on their symptoms, the coronovirus patients received a combination of HCQ and Azithromyci, an antibiotic that fights bacteria and used to treat many different types of infections caused by bacteria, such as respiratory infections, skin infections, ear infections, eye infections, and sexually transmitted diseases. The 16 remaining patients were not given the drug as a control.
He said that the first Covid-19 patients he had treated with the drug chloroquine had seen a rapid and effective speeding up of their healing process, and a sharp decrease in the amount of time they remained contagious.
Chloroquine – which is normally used mainly to prevent and treat malaria – was administered via the named drug, Plaquenil.
The treatment was offered to 24 patients, who were among the first to become infected in the south east of France, and who had voluntarily admitted themselves to hospital for the process.
Patients were given 600mcg per day for 10 days. They were closely monitored, as the drug can interact with other medication, and cause severe side effects in some cases.
Professor Raoult said: “We included everyone who was in agreement [to be treated], which was almost everyone. Two towns in the protocol, Nice and Avignon, gave us [infected] patients who had not yet received treatment.
“We were able to ascertain that patients who had not received Plaquenil (the drug containing hydroxychloroquine) were still contagious after six days, but of those that had received Plaquenil, after six days, only 25% were still contagious.”
At the end of the study, the researchers found a “significant” reduction in viral load in the patients treated with hydroxychloroquine. After 6 days, the team also found that the percentage of patients testing positive for COVID-19 who received hydroxychloroquine fell to 25% versus 90% for those who did not receive the treatment (a group of untreated COVID-19 patients from Nice and Avignon). Their study can be found in the European Union Clinical Trials Register, which shows that the Marseille study was accepted on 5th March by the National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM).
In addition, comparing untreated patients, those receiving hydroxychloroquine and those given hydroxychloroquine plus the antibiotic azithromycin, the results showed there was “a spectacular reduction in the number of positive cases” with the combination therapy, said Prof. Raoult. After 6 days, the percentage of cases still carrying SRAS-CoV-2 among patients given combination therapy, was no more than 5%.
Even with the encouraging news, French government spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye is still very cautious, according to a report from French news site, The Connexion. Ndiaye said that similar clinical trials would now be extended to more patients, but said that there is currently no definite “scientific proof” that the treatment works. “[New trials] will be completed by a team independent of Professor Raoult,” Ndiaye said. Other French researchers also warned of the dangers of authorizing the use of antiviral too quickly, in the absence of wider studies, and said that the side effects of chloroquine can be severe, especially in the case of overdose.
French health minister Olivier Véran has said that new tests will now go ahead in order to evaluate the results by Professor Raoult, in an attempt to independently replicate the trials and ensure the findings are scientifically robust enough, before any possible decision might be made to roll any treatment out to the wider public. He said: “I am aware of the results [by Professor Raoult] and I have now authorized a larger study by other teams to be started as soon as possible, on a larger number of patients.”