By Ayo Keninde
“Chloroquine phosphate, an old drug for treatment of malaria is shown to have apparent efficacy and acceptable safety against COVID -19, associated pneumonia, in multi-center clinical trials conducted in China”. That is the new discovery by scientists from the Department of Pharmacology, School of Pharmacy, Quindao University in China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak since December 2019. The disease has since assumed pandemic proportions according to WHO which disclosed on Thursday it has spread to almost 60 countries globally, infected 90, 000 persons and caused over 2,000 deaths.
The scientists who have published their findings in a letter titled Breakthrough: Chloroquine Phosphate Has Shown Apparent Efficacy in the Treatment of COVID-19 Associated Pneumonia in Clinical Studies, are Jianjun Gao, Zhenxue Tian, Xu Yang from Qunidao university. They published it in Bioscience Trends as Advance Publication.
They said: “In the early in vitro studies, chloroquine was found to block COVID-19 at low-micromolar concentration, with half maximal effective concentration and half cyclotoxic concentration greater than 100 milligram”. They said the test have been successfully carried out in 10 hospitals in Wuham, Jingzhou, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, Chongquing and Ningho.
“Thus far, the result from more than 100 patients have demonstrated that chloroquine phosphate is superior to the control treatment in inhibiting the exacerbation of pneumonia, improving lung imaging findings, promoting a virus negative conversion and shortening the disease course,” they said, adding that there were no indication of adverse reaction to the drug from patients.
They added on an optimistic note: “Given these findings, a conference was held on February 15, 2020, participants included experts from government and regulatory authorities and organisers of clinical trials reached an agreement that chloroquine phosphate has potent activity aganist COVID-19. The drug is recommended for inclusion in the next version of Guidelines for Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment of Pneumonia caused by COVID-19 issued by the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China”
They concluded by saying that chloroquine which is used in the prevention and treatment of malaria… has “anti-viral and anti-inflammatory that may account for its potent efficacy in treating patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.’