U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday called for malaria drug chloroquine to be approved for use against the novel coronavirus.
“HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN (an antibiotic), taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine,” Trump tweeted.
The U.S. president urged that they “be put in use IMMEDIATELY.”
“What do we have to lose?” he said at a news conference at the White House later.
However, critics warned that using a drug for a new purpose is never without risk.
What dosage to use and potential side effects are among the issues that need to be tested out.
Anthony Fauci, one of the top U.S. health officials handling the outbreak, noted that there have been only a few reports of the drug’s effectiveness, but no serious clinical studies.
According to Fauci, it is now a matter of using the drug in a controlled and limited manner to obtain data on its effectiveness.
In Germany, the Institute for Tropical Medicine in the south of the country is also planning human trials.
Chloroquine appears to be working against the new coronavirus, officially known as Sars-CoV-2, at least in a test tube, the institute’s director Peter Kremsner said earlier this week.
According to Kremsner, a large number of patients with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, have been treated with chloroquine in China and Italy.
However, it is unclear whether this will be successful, since the patients have received chloroquine in very high doses and in combination with many other medications.
“It may also not work or even harm,” Kremsner asserted.
In a statement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it has been working closely with other government agencies and academic centres that are investigating the use of the drug “to determine whether it can be used to treat patients with mild-to-moderate Covid-19.” (dpa/NAN)