from the world's big
Researchers stop COVID-19 drug trial after 11 patients die
A recent clinical trial in Brazil highlights the dangers of two potential COVID-19 treatments: chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.
- Scientists around the world are currently experimenting with chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as potential treatments for COVID-19.
- Despite some early reports suggesting that these antimalarial drugs may help prevent and treat the disease, there's still no solid evidence showing that they're a safe and effective treatment.
- The recent trial in Brazil suggests that high doses of chloroquine are toxic and should be avoided.
A small clinical trial in Brazil suggests that one potential treatment for COVID-19 comes with life-threatening side effects.
As the world searches for effective COVID-19 treatments, some nations have authorized doctors to give patients antimalarial drugs as part of experimental clinical trials. These trials show some indication that the drugs, chloroquine and the closely related hydroxychloroquine, may be effective at treating and preventing COVID-19.
Early reports from China and France, for example, suggested that the drugs may help improve patients' conditions. But health experts have cautioned against overhyping the results, flagging methodological issues in the research like not including a control group or having a small sample size. To date, there's no solid evidence showing that these drugs effectively treat COVID-19 or block coronaviruses from infecting cells.
What is clear, based on previous research and the new trial in Brazil, is that these drugs can cause serious side effects, particularly among those with heart conditions.
HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the… https://t.co/0ZEF0mdfJg— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1584799988.0
"The antimalarial medication hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin are currently gaining attention as potential treatments for COVID-19, and each have potential serious implications for people with existing cardiovascular disease," the American Health Association notes in a statement.
"Complications include severe electrical irregularities in the heart such as arrythmia (irregular heartbeat), polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (including Torsade de Pointes) and long QT syndrome, and increased risk of sudden death."
In the recent Brazil trial, researchers gave chloroquine to 81 COVID-19 patients in a hospital in Manaus. The study involved two groups: One received a high dose of 12 grams of chloroquine over 10 days, the second group received 2.7 grams over five days. Both groups also received the antibiotic azithromycin, which poses its own heart risks.
By the sixth day of the trial, 11 patients had died, and the researchers decided to stop giving the drug to the high-dose group.
"Preliminary findings suggest that the higher chloroquine dosage (10-day regimen) should not be recommended for COVID-19 treatment because of its potential safety hazards. Such results forced us to prematurely halt patient recruitment to this arm," the team wrote in a preprint paper.
Pedro Vilela / Stringer
The high-dose group had an especially high risk of suffering heart arrhythmias, a finding also observed in a separate trial on hydroxychloroquine conducted in a hospital in France, which cut the trial short.
"To me, this study conveys one useful piece of information, which is that chloroquine causes a dose-dependent increase in an abnormality in the ECG that could predispose people to sudden cardiac death," Dr. David Juurlink, an internist and the head of the division of clinical pharmacology at the University of Toronto, told The New York Times.
Still, it's possible that some combination of chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin may be effective at preventing and treating COVID-19. The researchers behind the Brazil trial said more research is "urgently needed," but warned doctors against using high dosages.
"We therefore strongly recommend that this dosage is no longer used anywhere for the treatment of severe COVID-19, especially because in the real world older patients using cardiotoxic drugs should be the rule."
Top WH trade adviser feuded with others on whether hydroxychloroquine can treat coronavirus, sources say.… https://t.co/Jh56ocx4eb— New Day (@New Day)1586176356.0
One major problem in searching for COVID-19 treatments is that it's currently difficult to conduct clinical trials in a normal and methodologically sound manner. Despite increasing demand for drugs like chloroquine, many health experts are warning that more research is needed to understand their effects and risks.
"The urgency of COVID-19 must not diminish the scientific rigor with which we approach COVID-19 treatment," Robert A. Harrington, M.D., FAHA, president of the American Heart Association said in a recent statement. "While these medications may work against COVID-19 individually or in combination, we recommend caution with these medications for patients with existing cardiovascular disease."
- Who should get coronavirus treatment? Doctors face ethical ... ›
- COVID-19 could lead to an epidemic of clinical depression, and the ... ›
- How you can help create a treatment for COVID-19 - Big Think ›
- Scientists create Covid-19 treatment from llama antibodies - Big Think ›
- Scientists create Covid-19 treatment from llama antibodies - Big Think ›
The rough beauty of the American West seems as far as you can get from the polished corridors of power in Washington DC.
The rough beauty of the American West seems as far as you can get from the polished corridors of power in Washington DC. Until you look at the title to the land. The federal government owns large tracts of the western states: from a low of 29.9% in Montana, already more than the national average, up to a whopping 84.5% in Nevada.
Researchers are using technology to make visual the complex concepts of racism, as well as its political and social consequences.
- Often thought of first as gaming tech, virtual reality has been increasingly used in research as a tool for mimicking real-life scenarios and experiences in a safe and controlled environment.
- Focusing on issues of oppression and the ripple affect it has throughout America's political, educational, and social systems, Dr. Courtney D. Cogburn of Columbia University School of Social Work and her team developed a VR experience that gives users the opportunity to "walk a mile" in the shoes of a black man as he faces racism at three stages in his life: as a child, during adolescence, and as an adult.
- Cogburn says that the goal is to show how these "interwoven oppressions" continue to shape the world beyond our individual experiences. "I think the most important and powerful human superpower is critical consciousness," she says. "And that is the ability to think, be aware and think critically about the world and people around you...it's not so much about the interpersonal 'Do I feel bad, do I like you?'—it's more 'Do I see the world as it is? Am I thinking critically about it and engaging it?'"
President Vladimir Putin announces approval of Russia's coronavirus vaccine but scientists warn it may be unsafe.
A new coronavirus vaccine on display at the Nikolai Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Russia.
Credit: Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr/ Russian Direct Investment Fund via AP
Medical workers draw blood from volunteers participating in a trial of a coronavirus vaccine at the Budenko Main Military Hospital outside Moscow, Russia.
Credit: Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP
A report from the New York Times raises questions over how the teletherapy startup Talkspace handles user data.