Hydroxychloroquine is ineffective for COVID and not to be used: WHO

Geneva: Anti-inflammatory drug hydroxychloroquine should not be used in efforts to prevent COVID-19 infections, according to the World Health Organisation.

A WHO expert panel found that the medicine had no meaningful effect on deaths or hospitalisations and may even increase the risk of adverse effects, the group said in a statement on Wednesday AEDT.

Australian authorities have warned against buying drugs such as hydroxychloroquine after an increase in imports. Credit:Australia Border Force

Hydroxychloroquine was touted as a COVID-19 game changer by former US president Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, but their nations have the worst and second worst coronavirus pandemic death toll in the world.

The US Food and Drug Administration revoked its authorisation after just a few months when research showed the drug didn’t work against the virus.

The WHO’s recommendation is based on evidence from six randomised controlled trials with more than 6000 participants with or without known exposure to a person with COVID-19.

Its experts said they now “judged that almost all people would not consider this drug worthwhile”.

Australian Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly has rejected claims by Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly that drugs like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine were useful in preventing or treating COVID-19. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“The panel considers that this drug is no longer a research priority and that resources should rather be oriented to evaluate other more promising drugs to prevent COVID-19,” they wrote.

The WHO noted in a statement that the recommendation is a so-called “living guideline” on potential drugs for COVID-19.

The guidelines, which can be updated as new evidence emerges, are designed to advise doctors and healthcare providers on managing the respiratory disease and help them make better decisions for patients.

Bloomberg, Reuters

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