Coronavirus: WHO announces resume clinical trials with hydroxychloroquine

The WHO announced the suspension of its tests on May 25, 2020. REUTERS / George Frey

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The World Health Organization announced this Wednesday, June 3, the resumption of clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine, nine days after having suspended them following the publication of a study in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet.


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The World Health Organization had launched clinical trials at the end of April, notably on hydroxychloroquine. Called Solidarity, they were intended to find an effective treatment against Covid-19. A month later, the world health authority announced the suspension of trials on this antimalarial following the publication of a study in the medical journal The Lancet . It considered ineffective, even harmful, the use of chloroquine or its derivatives such as hydroxychloroquine against Covid-19. The suspension of the trials was to allow WHO to analyze the information available, and a decision was expected in mid-June.

"No reason to change the protocol"

The organization finally released its findings sooner than expected. We are now fairly confident that we have not seen differences in mortality,  " Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist, said Wednesday during a virtual press conference from the headquarters of the organization in Geneva. After analyzing "  available data on mortality  ", the members of the Safety and Monitoring Committee considered "  that there is no reason to modify the protocol  " of clinical trials, insisted the Director General of WHO , Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The Solidarity Trial Executive Group, which represents participating countries, "  received this recommendation and approved the continuation of all dimensions of the trials, including on hydroxychloroquine,  " he said. The Executive Group will communicate with the main researchers in charge of the trial regarding the resumption of the hydroxychloroquine dimension of the trial,  " he detailed.

Based on available data, the # COVID19 Solidarity Trial Data Safety & Monitoring Committee recommended there are no reasons to modify the trial protocol. The Executive Group endorsed the continuation of all arms of the Trial, including the use of hydroxychloroquine.

  Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) June 3, 2020

The Lancet distances itself from controversial study

These conclusions were reached when the medical journal The Lancet has just distanced itself from the study it had published on May 22, warning its readers that it was asking many questions. This study was based on data from 96,000 patients hospitalized between December and April in 671 hospitals, and compared the condition of those who received treatment with that of patients who did not.

But many scientists had immediately expressed reservations about this work, whether or not they considered chloroquine and its derivatives as a valid treatment in the face of the Covid-19 epidemic. At the center of the questions, the huge database necessary for the study and the company that built it, Surgisphere. Lancet management said it had launched an independent audit to attest to the quality or otherwise of this data. The article has therefore not yet been retracted, but that would be terrible for the image of the magazine which is one of the four major reference publications.

We have published an Expression of Concern on the paper by Mehra et al on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine published on May 22, 2020

  The Lancet (@TheLancet) June 2, 2020

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  • Coronavirus
  • Health and Medicine