Over the past year, there’s been debate over whether hydroxychloroquine, a drug used for decades to treat malaria, can help ease the symptoms of the Wuhan coronavirus. During White House press briefings, reporters have done their best to shoot down the possibility.
But doctors around the country and the world are using it and seeing positive results.
First, in Los Angeles:
Dr. Anthony Cardillo said he has seen very promising results when prescribing hydroxychloroquine in combination with zinc for the most severely-ill COVID-19 patients.
“Every patient I’ve prescribed it to has been very, very ill and within 8 to 12 hours, they were basically symptom-free,” Cardillo told Eyewitness News. “So clinically I am seeing a resolution.”
Cardillo is the CEO of Mend Urgent Care, which has locations in Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys and Burbank.
He said he has found it only works if combined with zinc. The drug, he said, opens a channel for the zinc to enter the cell and block virus replication.
“We have to be cautious and mindful that we don’t prescribe it for patients who have COVID who are well,” Cardillo said. “It should be reserved for people who are really sick, in the hospital or at home very sick, who need that medication. Otherwise we’re going to blow through our supply for patients that take it regularly for other disease processes.”
Dr. Mohammud Alam, an infectious disease specialist affiliated with Plainview Hospital, said 81 percent of infected covid patients he treated at three Long Island nursing homes recovered from the contagion.
“In this crisis, I realized I had to do something,” Alam said. ”I realized if this was my dad, what would I do? And I would do anything I could to help.”
Alam said he decided he could not apply the touted combination of the antimalarial hydroxychloroquine and antibiotic azithromycin because the side effects could be potentially fatal for his high-risk patients, many of whom had underlying heart issues.
So instead, Alam replaced azithromycin with another decades-old antibiotic that doesn’t pose any known risks to the heart.
Dr. Stephen Smith, founder of The Smith Center for Infectious Diseases and Urban Health, said on “The Ingraham Angle” on Apr. 2nd, 2020 that he was optimistic about the use of antimalarial medications and antibiotics to treat COVID-19 patients, calling it “a game-changer.”
Smith, who is treating 72 COVID-19 patients, said that he has been treating “everybody with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin [an antibiotic]. We’ve been doing so for a while.”
He pointed out that not a single COVID-19 patient of his that has been on the hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin regimen for five days or more has had to be intubated.
An international poll of thousands of doctors rated the Trump-touted anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine the best treatment for the novel coronavirus.
Of the 6,227 physicians surveyed in 30 countries, 37 percent rated hydroxychloroquine the “most effective therapy” for combating the potentially deadly illness, according to the results released Thursday.
The survey, conducted by the global health care polling company Sermo, also found that 23 percent of medical professionals had prescribed the drug in the US — far less than other countries.
“Outside the US, hydroxychloroquine was equally used for diagnosed patients with mild to severe symptoms whereas in the US it was most commonly used for high risk diagnosed patients,” the survey found.
The medicine was most widely used in Spain, where 72 percent of physicians said they had prescribed it.
Hydroxychloroquine was widely denounced as dangerous and ineffective after being touted by President Trump as a treatment for the novel coronavirus, but newly released research found the drug actually works.
A peer-reviewed study published July 2nd in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases found that 13% of hospitalized patients treated with hydroxychloroquine alone died of COVID-19, compared to 26.4% who died who were not treated with the drug.
“Our analysis shows that using hydroxychloroquine helped save lives,” said Dr. Steven Kalkanis, a neurosurgeon, CEO of the Henry Ford Medical Group, and senior vice president of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, where the study was conducted.
“As doctors and scientists, we look to the data for insight,” said Dr. Kalkanis in a statement. “And the data here is clear that there was benefit to using the drug as a treatment for sick, hospitalized patients.”
The results of the large-scale study, which included 2,541 patients hospitalized from March 10 to May 2 across the system’s six hospitals, differ from those of previous U.S. studies, including a Columbia University Medical Center analysis that concluded in a May 11 report that the drug was ineffective.
Dr. Marcus Zervos, division head of infectious disease for the Henry Ford Health System, who co-authored the study with epidemiologist Dr. Samia Arshad, said that the difference may be attributed to the dosing and the timing.
“The findings have been highly analyzed and peer-reviewed,” said Dr. Zervos. “We attribute our findings that differ from other studies to early treatment, and part of a combination of interventions that were done in supportive care of patients, including careful cardiac monitoring.”
In addition, he said, “Our dosing also differed from other studies not showing a benefit of the drug.”
After initially approving hydroxychloroquine, or HCQ, for treating COVID-19, the Food and Drug Administration withdrew its emergency-use authorization on June 15, concluding the drug was “unlikely to be effective” and citing the risk of side effects such as “serious cardiac events.”
The drug, which was still permitted for clinical trials, has long been approved for treating lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and malaria, but carries a risk for those with a heart condition known as prolonged QT interval.
Dr. Zervos added that “other studies are either not peer reviewed, have limited numbers of patients, different patient populations or other differences from our patients.”
In a peer-reviewed study of 2,541 patients hospitalized at Michigan’s six Henry Ford hospitals during the coronavirus peak, scientists found that hydroxychloroquine “cut the death rate significantly” without “heart-related side-effects.” https://t.co/CbwKyqQWPY pic.twitter.com/6BWINcWSw1— Ellen Carmichael (@ellencarmichael) July 3, 2020
In 2005, a study by Martin J Vincent, Eric Bergeron, Suzanne Benjannet, Bobbie R Erickson, Pierre E Rollin, Thomas G Ksiazek, Nabil G Seidah and Stuart T Nichol proved that Chloroquine, a substance metabolized by cytochrome P450 enzymes in the liver and then cleared to a large degree by the kidneys (similar to Hydroxychloroquine but more potent) was extremely effective at reducing the SARS CoV infection.
“Chloroquine is effective in preventing the spread of SARS CoV in cell culture. Favorable inhibition of virus spread was observed when the cells were either treated with chloroquine prior to or after SARS CoV infection. In addition, the indirect immunofluorescence assay described herein represents a simple and rapid method for screening SARS-CoV antiviral compounds.” states the official report.
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