The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it will interrupt the use of an antimalarial in a global coronavirus drug trial, days after Belgium backed down from the study citing concerns about the drug.
The globe’s top health authority said on Monday that it would temporarily drop hydroxychloroquine on its global Solidarity trials, in which the antimalarial was set to be one of several treatments tested for their efficacy on Covid-19 patients.
In an online statement, WHO said the decision followed the publication of an international study during which researchers found the use of chloroquine and its derivate hydroxychloroquine raised the mortality risks on Covid-19 patients.
“The other arms of the trial are continuing,” the organisation said, adding that both drugs are “accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.”
On Friday, it was reported that Belgium had pulled out of the trials over concerns that the doses of hydroxychloroquine set to be tested on patients were too high.
The use of the antimalarial drug on Covid-19 patients has received wide media coverage and has been touted by US President Donald Trump, sparking concerns about health professionals who warned that it was uncertain that the drug’s use on Covid-19 patients was both safe and effective.
Launched around two months ago, the Solidarity trials will study the use of four drugs used in randomised combinations on Covid-19 patients.