WASHINGTON: Malaria medicine ‘Hydroxychloroquine’ is being administered to 1,100 coronavirus patients in New York, President Donald Trump has said, exuding confidence that the drug, touted as a “game-changer” by him, might give some incredible results in the fight against the disease that has infected over 140,000 people in the country.
An inexpensive drug widely used since 1955 to treat malaria, Hydroxychloroquine is considered to have relatively harmless side effects.
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It is being tested out on the COVID-19 patients in New York on an experimental basis, hoping that this will give a solution in the treatment against the novel coronavirus.
“Hydroxychloroquine is being administered to 1,100 patients, people in New York along with the Z-pack, which is azithromycin, and it is very early yet. It started two days ago, but we will see what happens,” Trump told reporters at a White House news conference.
Last week, Trump said that the drug could be a “gift from God.”
“Hydroxychloroquine & Azithromycin, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine,” he tweeted Saturday.
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Trump thanked Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director Stephen Hawn for fast approval of this drug in the treatment of the COVID-19.
“Let’s see how it may work or may not, but we may have some incredible results. We are going to know soon, so it is being tested on 1,100 people in New York,” he said.
“The FDA is also allowing the emergency use of a blood-related therapy called convalescent plasma as an experimental treatment for seriously ill patients,” said the president.
Given the drug’s relatively harmless side effects, doctors are already beginning to incorporate the drug in their treatment of the coronavirus cases. President Trump and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have both expressed optimism over the drug’s efficacy.
In a statement, Health and Human Services said that FDA has allowed the drugs to be “donated to the Strategic National Stockpile to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalised teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible.”
Novartis’s Sandoz has donated 30 million doses of Hydroxychloroquine to the stockpile and Bayer donated 1 million doses of chloroquine, the media statement said. Both the drugs have been evaluated for the use against COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world.
The number of deaths in New York state due to the coronavirus outbreak has crossed the 1,000 mark, with Governor Cuomo warning that thousands of people will pass away before the crisis ends in America’s current COVID-19 epicentre.
Cuomo, addressing his daily press conference on the pandemic on Sunday, said the deaths due to the massive virus outbreak in the state sharply rose from 728 to 965 in just one day. At 237, this was the largest one-day increase in number of deaths since the coronavirus outbreak began. By the end of the day, the death toll in the state crossed the 1,000-mark.
The US has more than 140,000 novel coronavirus cases and 2,489 deaths, according to a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University.