Is chloroquine a cure for coronavirus? Some scientists are touting the efficacy of the drug in preliminary studies, but are also noting that much more research needs to be done before confirming or denying it as a potential cure for coronavirus. With that said, many people on Twitter are claiming that chloroquine, or chloroquine combined with zinc, could be the cure for the global pandemic.
Chloroquine is an immunosuppressive drug and anti-parasite commonly used in malaria treatment. It’s most often taken as a tablet by mouth.
Recently, a WhatsApp voice memo has circulated around Nigeria, with a man in an English voice falsely claiming that French and Chinese doctors have “cured” coronavirus with chloroquine treatment. The man said that doctors recommend taking 500 mg of chloroquine phosphate for eight days, and the WhatsApp message also included a photo of chloroquine phosphate tablets. The fraudulent claim was linked to a site that illegally sold dosages of chloroquine, or claimed to.
Doctors have since stated that this dosage is far too much, for a malaria treatment.
Neither the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) have confirmed the guaranteed efficacy of chloroquine as a cure for coronavirus. In fact, on Feb. 20, Janet Diaz, the head of clinical care for WHO’s emergency program, said in a statement.
“At this moment in time there is no proven effective treatment for COVID-19 so that is clear at this moment in time. However there are ongoing clinical trials being done in China at this moment as well. The two that we’ve already discussed are testing the priority therapeutics that were prioritised by the WHO R&D blueprints and that includes lopinavir and ritonavir as well as remdesivir.
For chloroquine there is no proof that that is an effective treatment at this time. We recommend that therapeutics be tested under ethically approved clinical trials to show efficacy and safety.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Some Scientists Are Arguing for More Trials Testing Chloroquine as a Cure for Coronavirus
In one study published recently in the Journal of Clinical Care, scientists compiled six articles and 23 ongoing medical trials in China, using the evidence to argue that “chloroquine seems to be effective in limiting the replication of SARS-CoV-2 (virus causing COVID-19) in vitro.”
The scientists concluded,
“There is rational, pre-clinical evidence of effectiveness and evidence of safety from long-term clinical use for other indications to justify clinical research on chloroquine in patients with COVID-19. However, clinical use should either adhere to the Monitored Emergency Use of Unregistered Interventions (MEURI) framework or be ethically approved as a trial as stated by the World Health Organization. Safety data and data from high-quality clinical trials are urgently needed.”
Some Chinese publications have also reported early success in trials with chloroquine and the coronavirus. Per Xinhua, a Chinese state news agency, there was a Feb. 17 report that “Chinese experts, based on the result of clinical trials, have confirmed that chloroquine phosphate…has a certain curative effect on the novel coronavirus.”
WHO lists some adverse side effects with chloroquine when used in malaria treatment, including headaches and gastrointestinal symptoms.
For those wondering how hard it is to get chloroquine, it’s an over-the-counter drug in some countries, and requires a prescription from a doctor in others. In the United States, you need a prescription to get chloroquine.