Beginning of the global COVID-19 trial on hydroxychloroquine, which Trump is taking,

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LONDON / BANGKOK (Reuters) – Health care workers in Britain and Thailand have started to participate in a trial to determine if two antimalarial drugs can prevent COVID-19, including one that President Donald Trump claims to have taken.

The study, involving more than 40,000 healthcare workers in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America, seeks to determine whether chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine could play a role in the fight against the new coronavirus.

Demand for hydroxychloroquine surged after Trump touted it in early April. He said this week that he is now taking it as a preventive medicine against the virus despite medical warnings about its use.

Lead investigators in Thailand and Britain have said their “COPCOV” trial, which has been going on for several months, will end the heated and unnecessary debate.

“We still don’t know if anything is beneficial in COVID-19,” Professor Nicholas White, co-principal investigator at the University of Oxford, told Reuters.

“The only way we can tell if things are globally beneficial is by doing large, well-conducted clinical trials,” said White, who is based at the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in Bangkok. “These are extremely well established drugs.”

The COPCOV team said laboratory evidence has shown that antimalarial drugs can be effective in preventing or treating COVID-19, but there was no conclusive evidence. Accord Healthcare donated hydroxychloroquine and the corresponding placebo.

Doctors who test positive will not be able to participate. More details can be found here: bit.ly/3g7GeyN

Trump said on May 18 that he was taking hydroxychloroquine and that many front-line medical workers were also taking it, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had issued a warning regarding its use.

FILE PHOTO: A pharmacy worker shows hydroxychloroquine pills used to treat coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the CHR Center Hospitalier Regional de la Citadelle Hospital in Liege, Belgium, April 22, 2020. REUTERS / Yves Herman

“I’m taking it – hydroxychloroquine,” said Trump. “I’ve been taking it for a week and a half. One pill every day. “

Professor Martin Llewelyn, the UK’s chief investigator, said that many health workers relied on social distance and personal protective equipment, but that the measures were not perfect.

“Anything that could be done to further reduce this risk would be a huge breakthrough,” he told Reuters.

Writing by Kate Holton; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Catherine Evans

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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