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Scientists are currently testing to see if a drug currently used to treat lupus and prevent malaria could also help treat COVID-19.
Their interest is based on laboratory studies showing that the drug, hydroxychloroquine, blocked the entry of the coronavirus into cells. There is not yet solid evidence that the drug is in fact an effective treatment for COVID-19.
In fact, medical experts have advised against buying it for this purpose, as it could deplete supplies for the people who really need them.
This has not stopped President Trump from repeatedly claiming that hydroxychloroquine is a promising treatment for COVID-19. During a briefing at the White House on Friday, he raised the issue again.
“Hydroxychloroquine, I don’t know,” he said, shaking his head. “It looks like it has had good results. I hope it would be a phenomenal thing. “
But clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine have just started, and scientists in charge have not yet reported any results, positive or negative. Detecting any positive effect from the medication can take a while or even weeks.
On March 24, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health was asked if the drug was considered a treatment for the new coronavirus.
“The answer is no,” he said, “and the evidence you’re talking about … is anecdotal evidence. “