On Thursday, British healthcare workers will begin taking part in a University of Oxford-led international trial of two anti-malarial drugs to see if they can prevent the deadly COVID-19, one of which is being taken by US President Donald Trump.
The study named ‘COPCOV' will see the participation of more than 40,000 frontline healthcare workers from Europe, Africa, Asia and South America to determine whether chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine can prevent the novel coronavirus which has so far infected over 5 million people worldwide.
The drugs have gained more popularity ever since Trump said earlier this week that he was taking hydroxychloroquine as preventive medicine against the highly infectious virus despite medical warnings about its use.
The trial, led by the University of Oxford with the support of the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in Bangkok will include people who are in close contact with patients with proven or suspected COVID-19. It will open to British participants at hospital sites in Brighton and Oxford on Thursday.
“We really do not know if chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine are beneficial or harmful against COVID-19,” said the University of Oxford’s Professor Nicholas White, the study’s co-principal investigator who is based at MORU.
“The best way to find out if they are effective in preventing COVID-19 is in a randomised clinical trial,”
In Britain, Europe and Africa participants will receive either hydroxychloroquine or a placebo for three months. In Asia they will receive either chloroquine or a placebo.
“We are looking at this with great care and examining all of the evidence that is out there,” Britain’s security minister James Brokenshire told Sky News.