Researchers looking to determine if an anti-malarial drug can prevent Covid-19 will continue with efforts to recruit 40,000 health workers for a global study. The effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in the battle against coronavirus has been widely analysed, but studies were halted earlier this month.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) decided to prevent researchers from continuing to recruit participants for trials involving hydroxychloroquine until data justifying continuation had been provided.
MHRA said consent for the global study – called Copcov – has been granted earlier this week.
The trial, led by the University of Oxford’s Mahidol Oxford Tropical Research Unit in Bangkok, Thailand, had begun recruitment in Brighton and Oxford and aims to see whether the drugs could prevent Covid-19.
Many recent studies had focused on seeing whether the drug can be used to treat, rather than prevent, coronavirus.
Chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine or a placebo will be given to more than 40,000 healthcare workers from Europe, Africa, Asia and South America.
The study’s UK lead Investigator Professor Martin Llewelyn said: “Although rates of Covid are low just now in the UK, healthcare workers are still being affected across the NHS and a second wave of infection this winter is widely expected.
“In terms of finding an intervention that could protect key workers by this winter, hydroxychloroquine is by far the most realistic prospect.
“The recent post-exposure prophylaxis study confirmed its safety and indicated that it could be protective if given as pre-exposure prophylaxis. This is what Copcov will find out.”
The resumption of the trial comes after a now-retracted study claimed the drug was linked to an increased risk of death and heart arrhythmias among people severely ill in hospital with coronavirus.
The claims of the paper, published in the Lancet medical journal, prompted the World Health Organisation to temporarily pause the hydroxychloroquine arm of its Solidarity drug trials as a precaution to allow safety data to be reviewed.
However, the paper’s authors later apologised and retracted the study after concerns were raised about the veracity of data and analyses used, leading them to seek an independent audit.
Published: 30/06/2020 by Radio NewsHub