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French Researching Malaria Drug and Antibiotic to Shorten COVID-19 Effects

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French Researching Malaria Drug and Antibiotic to Shorten COVID-19 Effects

2020-03-23 16:06:001 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Drug lab (Image source: Public domain)

Donald Trump has been excitedly talking about a drug combination that research has shown can cure coronavirus COVID-19. French researchers are saying that same combination — a malaria drug and an antibiotic — could shorten the effects of the new coronavirus. 

Researchers with IHY-Méditerranée Infection in Marseille published their research on prescribing the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin to COVID-19 patients. There are other experts, though, urging people to remain cautious of this drug cocktail.

The Federal Drug Administration is studying the effects of hydroxychloroquine on its own as a potential treatment but has not made any official recommendations for it yet.  

Translated from the statement, the researchers described the treatment protocol as "a treatment with the hydroxychloroquine combination (200 mg x 3 per day for 10 days) + Azithromycin (500 mg on the 1st day, then 250 mg per day for 5 more days), as part of the precautions for use of this association (including an electrocardiogram on D0 and D2)." They added that "in cases of severe pneumonia, a broad-spectrum antibiotic is also used."

The researchers continued to say they "believe that it is not ethical that this association should not be systematically included in therapeutic trials concerning the treatment of COVID-19 infection in France." 

Untreated patients were included in the research as negative controls. Six patients in the study were asymptomatic, with 22 having upper respiratory tract infection symptoms and 8 having lower respiratory tract infection symptoms.

They treated 20 cases in the study and noted that patients "showed a significant reduction of the viral carriage" six days after treatment with the drug cocktail was started. They also reported "much lower average carrying duration" compared to the untreated patients. 

Trump has been pushing the treatment for days, seemingly as a way to show the country there is no reason to be concerned. "HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game-changers in the history of medicine," he tweeted on Sunday.

"The FDA has moved mountains — Thank You! Hopefully, they will BOTH (H works better with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents) ... be put in use immediately. People are dying, move fast, and GOD BLESS EVERYONE!" added the known germophobe. 

Also optimistic is Dr. Mehmet Oz, known for being a medical expert on TV. He said on "Fox and Friends" on Friday morning, "These medications were remarkably effective in reducing the viral load in people who had coronavirus, the COVID-19," adding, "We could actually make this virus behave a lot more like the flu virus if that's true."

Yet, some experts think extreme caution should be used with this drug cocktail. Dr. Edsel Salvana, an infectious diseases physician, warned people on Saturday not to take hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin unless prescribed by a doctor. 

"Both drugs affect the QT interval of your heart and can lead to arrhythmias and sudden death," he tweeted, "especially if you are taking other meds or have a heart condition."

"There are instances in which doctors may use either or both in CONFIRMED COVID infection, but for compassionate use through a carefully monitored process," he continued in a separate tweet. "There is data it MIGHT work, but it is very early. DO NOT take ANY drug unless an MD prescribes it and monitors you closely." 

France is not the only country working on coronavirus COVID-19 cures and vaccinations. These are taking place around the world, just as the virus is.

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