Johannesburg – The World Health Organization (WHO) has resumed global trials of the anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for Covid-19.
The WHO suspended the study after two research papers in respected journals flagged health dangers.
But those papers were withdrawn last week; just as South Africa prepared to enrol its first patients in the International Solidarity Trial.
The New England Journal and Lancet have retracted studies that vilified the hydroxychloroquine medication; saying the authors were unable to independently verify the data behind the analysis. Questions were asked about the integrity of the data obtained from a little-known company called Surgisphere; which claimed to have sourced information from over a thousand hospitals around the world.
Last month the WHO stopped the use of hydroxychloroquine in the Solidarity Trial based on those studies, a decision it reversed last week.
The WHO said it should have asked for the database; but accepted the report because it was published in the well-respected Lancet.
Solidarity Trial co-principal investigator Professor Helen Rees said there are over 130 trials going on worldwide with hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19, and the study is about to get underway in South Africa.
“Many of those studies were temporarily stopped and the WHO suspended the hydroxychloroquine arm of the study. The Solidarity trial has now been approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), and is now in the final stages of discussion with the ethics committees. I think those will come through quite soon; so we hope the study will start within the next one to two weeks,” Rees said.