U.K. Begins Trial to See If Hydroxychloroquine Prevents Covid-19

(Bloomberg) --

Oxford University began enrolling U.K. health workers on Thursday in a global trial to see whether anti-malaria drugs can prevent infection by the coronavirus.

Participants, who are all workers in contact with patients suffering from the virus, will be given either hydroxychloroquine or a placebo for three months in the U.K. Chloroquine or a placebo will be given to those being tested in Asia.

U.S. President Donald Trump said earlier this week that he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection, despite government warnings that it can cause serious side effects.

“We really do not know if chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine are beneficial or harmful against COVID-19,” Professor Nicholas White of Oxford University, who is involved in the study, said in a statement. “The best way to find out if they are effective in preventing COVID-19 is in a randomized clinical trial.”

The trial will enroll 40,000 health-care workers across the world and examine whether Covid-19 can prevent people catching the disease. That differs from the more than 100 trials underway to see whether the drugs can treat the virus, claims that have been promoted by Trump and drawn skepticism elsewhere.

The trial is also being led by the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Bangkok. Results are expected by the end of the year.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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