Study to investigate effectiveness of drug at fighting COVID-19

HCQ is originally an anti-malarial drug

A provincewide trial will investigate the effectiveness of a medication used to treat malaria in preventing hospitalization for people at the highest risk of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19.

The Alberta Hope COVID-19 study will recruit 1,600 Albertans to determine whether a five-day treatment of hydroxychloroquine can help those at greatest risk of developing severe illness.

“As we’ve learned from other countries, hospital systems can become overwhelmed by those infected with the virus who need critical care,” said Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

“Our goal is to reduce the risk of severe disease experienced by individuals and reduce the burden on the health-care system by helping people recover from the effects of the virus at home.”

Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial drug that is currently being used mostly for immunological disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.

The Alberta government says laboratory studies suggest the drug may be helpful against COVID-19.

In recent weeks, U.S. President Donald Trump has shown his support for hydroxychloroquine, calling it a “game changer.”

In a tweet in March, Trump said taking hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, a common antibiotic, have a real chance of being a major medical achievement.

The clinical trial is being led by University of Calgary and University of Alberta researchers.

Alberta Health Services will obtain permission from individuals with positive COVID-19 tests to provide their contact information to the study researchers. Consenting participants will be screened for safety and eligibility.

The study has been approved by Health Canada.

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