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WHO set to resume hydroxychloroquine trial in battle on COVID-19

The World Health Organization (WHO) is set to resume its trial of hydroxychloroquine for potential use against the new coronavirus, its head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 after testing was suspended due to health concerns.

Trials will resume after The Lancet cast doubt over a large-scale study it published last month that led to temporary suspension of testing of the drug.

Tedros also told an online media briefing he was "especially worried" about the outbreak in Central and South America, where infections have been spreading rapidly.

The Lancet acknowledged "important" questions over the research into the anti-viral drugs, after dozens of scientists issued an open letter raising concerns about its methodology and the underlying data, which was provided by the US-based firm Surgisphere.

"Although an independent audit of the provenance and validity of the data has been commissioned by the authors not affiliated with Surgisphere and is ongoing, with results expected very shortly, we are issuing an Expression of Concern to alert readers to the fact that serious scientific questions have been brought to our attention," The Lancet said Tuesday

France was among the countries to also halt COVID-19 treatment with hydroxychloroquine.

The study whipped up fresh controversy over hydroxychloroquine, which has been endorsed by public figures -- including US President Donald Trump -- despite concerns over side effects and a lack of evidence that it is effective.

It followed numerous smaller studies that suggested hydroxychloroquine is ineffective in treating COVID-19, when used alone. 

When combined with Zinc and azithromycin there is a significant likelihood of discharge to home and decreased mortality or transition to hospice, it must be noted that this applies to COVID-19 patients that have not been admitted to the ICU.

The main finding of the Hydroxychloroquine, Zinc and Azithromycin study is that after adjusting for the timing of zinc therapy, we found that the addition of zinc sulfate to hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin was found to associate with a decrease in mortality or transition to hospice among patients who did not require ICU level of care, but this association was not significant in patients who were treated in the ICU.

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