Health expert: Hydroxychloroquine debate should step aside for other COVID-19 treatment options

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug once touted as a hopeful treatment for COVID-19, has been a topic of national debate recently, as a Houston-area doctor claiming the drug could cure the coronavirus caught President Trump’s attention. However, a local public health expert says the conversation should move on from that drug and onto new options.

“What therapeutics do we have that are being investigated? Which ones have the best evidence? Are they being used at the intensity that they could be,” Dr. David Holtgrave, UAlbany Dean of the School of Public Health asked, “are we investigating all the other candidate drugs that we might need to take a look at?” 

These are the questions we should be asking, according to Dr. Holtgrave. He recently published a letter to the editor of the International Journal of Infectious Diseases to set the record straight about the use of Hydroxycholorquine to treat COVID-19. He and the other doctors on the letter suggest a study recently published that cites benefits of the malaria drug on mortality rates could’ve been based on bias.

Promising is not a word Dr. Holtgrave would use to describe the overwhelming consensus from studies on the drug.

“It seems that, really,” Dr. Holtgrave said, “there’s not a benefit from Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment, especially for hospitalized patients with COVID-19.”

“Those were studies from Oxford University, from W.H.O., and even a big trial that was conducted by the National Institute of Health here in the United States,” Dr. Holtgrave cited as sources.

Instead of continuing to debate over Hydroxychloroquine, Dr. Holtgrave says we should shift the national discussion to exploring other options.

“We should all be committed to trying to help people survive COVID-19,” Dr. Holtgrave said.


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