Testing underway for potential coronavirus treatment; Yale doctors question its validity


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The New York City region is now the epicenter of the coronavirus in the United States, and health officials there are leading the way to test a possible treatment to slow down the surge of COVID-19.

Among those believed to have potential are three antiviral drugs.

They are looking into the efficacy and safety of the anti-malaria drug chloroquine, and related hydroxychloroquine along with the antibiotic azithromycin – or commonly known as Z-Pack.

All stemming from a small study in France that leading experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Joe Vinetz with Yale Medicine have questioned.

“This is a problematic trial,” said Dr. Vinets. “And as Dr. Fauci at the NIH pointed out, it’s nothing more than anecdote.”

Dr. Vinetz said the testing was not validated.

“The trial was not well conducted. They lost a lot of patients, more than 20% of the patients either got much worse or died or left the study.”

Still, he said there was a seemingly positive result.

Though Dr. Vinetz said that has led to a downside, there is now a shortage of hydroxychloroquine.

“It’s like toilet paper, people are going to go out and hoard it and the people who need it can’t get it,” he said.

Dr. Vinetz said looking into the merit of the drugs is worthy.

“It might work, there are theoretical reasons it might work.”

But said controlled trials are key to safe treatment. Major facilities like Yale New Haven Hospital are already offering hydroxychloroquine to closely monitored COVID-19 patients.

“By a consensus, it is a worthwhile thing to try as long as we give recommended dosing and then but have to monitor safely and we need to optimally do this in a comparative way so we find out in the next couple of weeks whether it works,” Dr. Vinetz said.

Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo also announced plans of collecting plasma from people who have recovered and injecting the antibody-rich fluid into patients still combating coronavirus.

So far, no treatment has been proven effective for COVID-19.

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